For several years, the Service Employees International Union's largest California local has staged a lavish golf tournament that it bills as a fundraiser for two nonprofit groups affiliated with the labor organization.
But neither charity's financial reports have specified any income from the annual event since 2004, Internal Revenue Service records through last year show. And the SEIU chapter itself specified no expenses or revenues from the 2006 tournament, even though costs and receipts for the summertime gala at the Four Seasons Resort in Carlsbad totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars in other years, according to financial statements the union filed with the U.S. Labor Department.
Promotional material listed Western Dental as official sponsor of the 2006 tournament. Representatives of Western Dental did not return phone calls. The former president of the local, Tyrone Freeman, said in a Times interview last summer that the company provided dental care for union members. He said the union's business dealings with Western Dental had nothing to do with the sponsorship.
The SEIU local, which represents 160,000 low-income workers, is the target of a federal corruption investigation, the result of Times reports on its spending practices. A spokeswoman for the union's national office, Michelle Ringuette, said the tournament has become part of the federal probe. She declined to comment further.
Freeman said the union may have managed to hold the 2006 tournament without incurring any reportable costs.
"Sometimes all it takes is a phone call," said Freeman, who has now been banned for life from the union and ordered to pay it more than $1 million in restitution. He said the tournament received financial support from corporate donors, but he declined to elaborate.
He also said the tournaments have made up to $80,000 a year for the charities: a worker-training center and a low-cost housing corporation.
On its Labor Department statements, the local has reported some payments of tournament receipts to the training center.
But the IRS reports filed by both nonprofits since 2004 make no mention of the tournament.
Freeman has been accused by the union of taking improper payments from the housing corporation, and arranging for his mother-in-law's home-based day-care service to receive more than $90,000 a year from the training center.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
Pringle is a Times staff writer.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times