Did former Labor Secretary Solis hide in-kind union contributions?

Hilda Solis left the Obama administration in January 2013 after serving the entire term as Secretary of Labor, and is now running for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. However, the new race has brought some unwanted attention to her recent past. According to allegations in a new RICO lawsuit filed against the leader of the International Union of Operating Engineers and several family members and friends, the union provided Solis free travel on their private jet — and Solis never disclosed the in-kind contributions (via Drudge):

Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained a lawsuit filed in the California Central US District Court claiming that former US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, a current candidate for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, was provided thousands of dollars worth of free private jet travel without declaring the trips on the federal government required forms, paid for by the powerful International Union of Operating Engineers based in Pasadena during the same period she was undergoing confirmation hearings to become part of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet. …

Sources close to the case tell HMG-CN that Solis was given transportation on IUOE Local 12′s Cessna Citation XL Jet and that Solis failed to report the in-kind gift to the Federal Election Commission as required under law.

Los Cerritos News reporter Randy Economy digs into the records of the House, where Solis served until her confirmation at Labor as Representative for CA-32 in East Los Angeles. Lo and behold, there are no disclosures there either of the alleged free rides from IUOE, despite statutory requirements to provide that information:

According to the Office of the Clerk U.S. House of Representatives website, no Financial Disclosure Reports have been filed by Solis.

A further examination of Gift and Travel findings on the same website revealed 11 trips taken by Solis, none provided by the IUOE.

The aircraft in question is a Cessna Citation XL, a medium-sized commuter jet, which has a range of over 1800 nautical miles. Most of the flights, though, took place locally — between the airport in El Monte and Ontario in Riverside County. The flights would have cost thousands of dollars, and the lawsuit alleges that the union provided the flights so “she could avoid freeway traffic.” The plaintiffs further claim as part of the RICO lawsuit (which does not name Solis as a respondent) that the IUOE illegally influenced the 2008 Congressional campaign in which Solis won re-election. (The district has a Cook rating of D+12.)

Recently, Barack Obama claimed that there hasn’t been “a smidgen” of corruption in his administration, a claim which this lawsuit will test — and perhaps an investigation of Solis’ disclosure habits, too, if one begins.  Michael Ramirez offers his response to Obama in today’s editorial cartoon at Investors Business Daily:


Be sure to check out Ramirez’ terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, which covers the entire breadth of Ramirez’ career, and it gives fascinating look at political history.  Read my review here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here.  And don’t forget to check out the entire Investors.com site, which has now incorporated all of the former IBD Editorials, while individual investors still exist.

Addendum: For full disclosure, let me note that Randy Economy and I were friends back when we both attended Cerritos High School. Randy is still in the area serving the local community with his reporting, while I’m waking up to -17 temperatures in Minnesota.