- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 21, 2002

Several months ago, auditors with the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) and its parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, made startling discoveries: The WTU was overcharging its members, and some of its officers were apparently lavishing themselves with furs, Tiffany silver and expensive goods from Saks and other upscale shops. Teachers and city officials are shocked and appalled at the allegations, the scope of which goes beyond the initial suspicions reported this fall.
The preliminary probe this fall forced WTU President Barbara Bullock and Treasurer James Baxter to resign, and Bullock assistant Gwendolyn Hemphill, a co-chair of Mayor Williams reelection bid, stepped aside. The union fired a fourth employee. Since then through raids, receipts, expense reports, tax records and other probatory measures federal authorities have pulled together a scandalous affidavit. Mr. Baxter wrote " 'thousands of dollars in union checks to himself' and spent tens of thousands of dollars with union credit cards from 1995 until this year for 'restaurants, bars and nightclubs, gasoline for multiple vehicles … and art, flowers and other expenses," The Washington Post reported yesterday, quoting the affidavit. Regarding Ms. Hemphill, authorities are probing a $3,100 Caribbean vacation charged to her union credit card and a $13,000 television reportedly delivered to her home, as well as other allegations. Ms. Hemphill has promised and will continue to cooperate with authorities.
Ms. Bullock, who had been WTU president since 1994, is suspected of spending more than $1 million in union dues including $500,000 at a custom-made clothier in Baltimore, $150,000 at Neiman-Marcus, and tens of thousands more on shoes, art and other items, such as furs and silver home furnishings. There were other expenses tied to her as well, including invoices seeking reimbursement for "transporting Barbara Bullock in search of additional wardrobe," the affidavit said.
This nauseating turn of events is proceeding precisely as it should, thanks to WTU's initial heads-up. If only half of what federal investigators have so far uncovered holds up in court, then prison and full restitution should be the only options for the guilty parties.

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