A top union boss in California who steered millions of dollars to Democratic campaigns was charged Wednesday with underreporting more than a million dollars in income and providing a no-show job to her husband.
Alma Hernández, the former executive director of SEIU California, and her husband allegedly underreported their income by $1.4 million from 2014 to 2018, according to state authorities. Hernández paid her husband with funds from a union-affiliated PAC for a no-show job, according to the charges. The corruption scandal could shake the foundations of one of the most powerful Democratic kingmakers in the Golden State. SEIU California spent nearly $15 million on political activity in 2020, according to federal labor filings, and committed to spend more than $6 million in 2021 on Gov. Gavin Newsom's (D.) ultimately successful recall campaign.
"Working people deserve leaders they can depend on to help them achieve these goals at the bargaining table and through political advocacy, but also leaders they can trust," California attorney general Rob Bonta (D.) said in a statement. "When there is reason to believe trust has been broken and crimes have been committed, we have an ethical duty to investigate."
Hernández and her husband, Jose Moscoso, are facing multiple charges of embezzlement, perjury, and tax fraud. SEIU California has nearly 600,000 members across the state, according to its latest federal LM-2 report. Hernández served as executive director of the union since 2016. She resigned on Wednesday.
Labor watchdogs said the scope of the allegations reveals a culture of corruption at one of the most influential labor unions in the country. Patrick Semmens, the vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, said he is not surprised about the charges against Hernández, saying union leaders nationwide have made a habit of exploiting workers to maximize union dues and political influence.
"This scandal is another reminder that government union bosses pursue their own interests often at the expense of rank-and-file workers, and while frequently that means gaining influence and power with elected officials in pursuit of a personal political agenda, it can also mean illicitly lining their own bank accounts," Semmens told the Washington Free Beacon.
Timothy Snowball, the California litigation counsel for the Freedom Foundation, said the charges are unlikely to be an isolated instance. It is not a significant leap, he said, for union executives to go from forcing members to pay dues to keeping those dues for personal use.
"It makes sense that they would eventually begin lining their own pockets," Snowball told the Free Beacon. "Unfortunately, this scandal is just the latest evidence in a long history of corrupt and illegal behavior by SEIU California."