When questioned about why he failed to register as a lobbyist, UFCW president Wendell Young IV excused himself with a special exemption from the law that doesn’t exist.
He told Pennsylvania Independent reporter Andrew Staub that he didn’t need to register, basically because he’s kind of a big deal.
“Clearly, I do lobby, but it’s not my primary function as president of the union,” Young said, comparing his role to that of corporate CEOs, who don’t have to register although they might contact state lawmakers.
Um, that’s false. Corporate CEOs do have to register, if they spend as much time and money lobbying as Wendell Young. The state lobbying law has some exemptions—but “not my primary function” or being a CEO isn’t among those.
UFCW’s own reports show that Wendell Young spends 8 percent of his time on lobbying and political activity. Given his annual compensation of $292,765, his payment for lobbying comes to $23,421 per year. That’s way above the minimum threshold for registering as a lobbyist. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
But this isn’t the first time Wendell Young has invented his own facts. Here is a long list of other things Young has simply made up:
- A $300,000 ad campaign claiming wine in grocery stores will kill one child every week (note: the Tribune-Review wrote today how egregious this particular lie is),
- A $1 million ad campaign claiming liquor store privatization will result in more drunk driving accidents and children growing up without parents—an ad so false the rest of the nation just laughed at it,
- Claiming these ad expenses were “representational activities,” not lobbying or political,
- Misquoting studies about liquor privatization,
- Making up, on the spot, that Pennsylvania has the lowest rates of alcohol abuse (among other myths) during an online debate,
- Accusing “privateers” of hijacking an online Pittsburgh Post-Gazette poll, and
- Claiming that union dues can’t be used for politics,
It’s pretty clear that Wendell Young thinks being a government union executive entitles him to make up his own facts, and even his own rules. But Pennsylvania taxpayers and union members deserve better.
Wendell isn’t alone. Other union executives failed to register as lobbyists, and when taken to task, suggested that maybe they should follow the law, if they really have to.
When learning that Gene Barr, president of Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, is registered as a lobbyist, [AFL-CIO President Rick] Bloomingdale said it’s probably a good idea for him to register, too.
“We’’e got nothing to hide,” Bloomingdale said. “If we’ve got to do it, we’ll do it, and that’ll be the end of it.”