This is one story I’m going to need some help with, because clearly some of my preconceived notions about the nature of the media universe have been tossed into the dust bin. Jack Coleman did a little digging into the Department of Labor, which reports the financial activities of labor unions, including who is on their payroll. What he came up with regarding one very lucky “employee” should have some jaws dropping across the political world. The “employee” in question is none other than MSNBC shouter and syndicated radio host Ed Schultz.

In fiscal 2011, Schultz received $190,000 from the Communications Workers of America for what the U.S. Department of Labor categorized as “representational activities.”

For swag like that, you’d think Schultz could at least get it right about the CWA name. Instead, he invariably refers to it as the “Communication” Workers of America when its president, Larry Cohen, is a guest on Schultz’s radio show, as Cohen often is.

Schultz also received $9,900 in fiscal 2011 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), putting his union haul for the year at almost $200,000.

This represented a fivefold increase over the $37,350 Schultz received from unions in fiscal 2010 — $15,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), $14,850 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and $7,500 from the Communications Workers of America.

Click through for the full list of payments which Schultz had been pocketing from a variety of unions going back to the earliest days of his radio career. The grand total is well over a quarter million dollars. There is little indication as to precisely what Schultz is doing which qualifies as “administrative work” for the unions in question. The guy is on the air pretty much constantly, so I’m not sure how he finds time to zip over the local union hall and sort time cards or fill out insurance forms or whatever it is he’s supposed to be doing.

Now, maybe I’m totally off base here, but if there’s isn’t something going on in this story that’s illegal, isn’t there at least something that’s against the rules? Schultz talks about unions constantly in his “reporting” on MSNBC, and has gone so far as to fly out to Minnesota to lead the union faithful in a rally against Scott Walker. I’m no expert, but if you’re reporting and providing expert opinion commentary on a story like that, shouldn’t you be mentioning that they gave you two hundred grand?

I’m just a blogger, and nobody else is paying me, but when an outside interest – such as an energy company – even pays for travel and lodging expenses to go cover a story somewhere, I can’t even put up a post here without stipulating that they covered such expenses. Doesn’t that apply to the political media? I seem to recall MSNBC suspending Scarborough just for writing some contribution checks to friends and family members running for local offices. But they don’t make Schultz disclose taking in this kind of a haul from groups which he then goes out and uses a very large national megaphone to support?

My first thought was, this has to be a different Ed Schultz, right? I mean, it’s not that uncommon of a name, after all. But the author apparently contacted the labor department for confirmation and got it. Also, in addition to “administrative” duties, some of the payments list Schultz’s work as “broadcasting.” But we’ll leave the door open for now to the possibility that it’s a mix-up.

I hope someone else can explain this better than I. I honestly don’t know how anyone can get away with this and keep their job.

(EDIT: “jaws” would be much better than “draws” I suppose)