California's biggest union local has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on companies owned by its president's relatives, the Los Angeles Times reports. The SEIU local for low-wage caregivers, and a related charity, paid six figures to a video company run by the wife and mother-in-law of union President Tyrone Freeman. He defends the expenses, which include nearly $300,000 on a golf tournament and $10,000 on a celebrity cigar lounge.
"Every expenditure has been in the context of fighting poverty," said Freeman. But the local spent nearly $123,000 more on a fundraiser than it was reimbursed, and 10% of its annual expenses on Freeman's mother-in-law's firm. "It's very important for unions not to do this kind of thing," a labor advocate said. "Union leadership is a public trust—all the more so when the people being represented are among the lowest-paid in America."