IAFF: Schaitberger Issues Statement

He calls for unity amidst pension scam and growing probe.


President-for-life Harold Schaitberger posted a letter on the IAFF website in the face of mounting evidence of his unethical and corrupt actions.

In it he tries to explain his on-going and unsuccessful attempt to cover up and downplay the revelations in secretary-treasurer Ed Kelly’s widely circulated memo which can be seen here.

Kelly, the chief financial officer of the IAFF, is well placed to know about financial impropriety during Schaitberger’s long tenure.

Schaitberger is desperate to maintain control of the scandal by keeping it inside his IAFF while using district vice-presidents like hostages surrounding a bank robber.

He says,

in recent weeks, our union, your Executive Board and I as your General president, have been hit with new, reckless and destructive attacks designed to rip at the very fabric of what we have built. These attacks are based on the inappropriate and unauthorized distribution of selective internal, privileged documents.

The facts and allegations against Schaitberger are far from reckless. Three separate legal counsels have all concluded that Schaitberger improperly received an IAFF pension for twenty years, over $1,000,000 is in play.

In fact, the vice-presidents have stopped that pension.

And there are many other serious problems.

From the Kelly memo:

  • Systematic misrepresentations in financial reporting to the Executive Board
  • Failures to adhere to dictates of convention action and internal policies regarding financial operations
  • $6 million unaccounted for in interfund balances
  • [Improperly] accessing employees email accounts
  • Your [Schaitberger’s] staff, at your direction, prohibits my [Kelly’s] ability to act as this organization’s record keeper.
  • Your [Schaitberger’s] sudden and subjective interpretation of the Constitution & ByLaws that you have the sole authority to sign all contracts is not supported by the longstanding practice in this organization.
  • Amendments to the Staff and Employee Pension Plans that were adopted in 2006, which were not approved by the Executive Board. These amendments provided unreduced early retirement benefits for certain former employees of the IAFF and have potentially added millions of dollars to the funding obligations of the Plans.
  • Two principal officers have accrued millions of dollars of benefits under a non-tax qualified retirement program covered by Internal Revenue Code Section 457(f), without the taxability of the benefits being reported to the IRS. This will require the IAFF to file multiple years of retroactive amended Form W-2s to properly report the taxable benefits, with as yet unknown exposure to the IAFF for back taxes, penalties and interest.
  • We are currently under IRS audit on our 457(b)-retirement program due to excess deferrals by certain individuals, including the General President.
  • The General President and former General Secretary-Treasurer began collecting their pension from the Staff Pension Plan when they were elected to their offices, even though they did not retire. Three separate outside law firms have advised in writing that this was not allowed under the Internal Revenue Code. This has resulted in over a million dollars of improper pension payments to these officers.
  • Millions of dollars in financial misreporting and millions of dollars in nondiscretionary funds that were utilized for purposes unrelated to their designation.

Schaitberger attempts to rewrite history when he says,

Internally, we have had many disagreements along the way, but there was never any personal hatred that sprung from it. Everyone involved acted professionally and responsibly, regardless of his or her point of view. We were all united in one thing — advancing this union on behalf of our members to the next level.

Many IAFF leaders, including vice-presidents past and present, have felt the sting of the Schaitberger whip when he used his power to crush dissent or his perceived enemies.

As just one example, Schaitberger spent $350,000 of member’s dues to hire an outside private investigator to spy on IAFF members and staff when he was caught in an earlier scandal.

Schaitberger has neither acted professionally nor responsibly and the only thing he has advanced is his own greed through conflicts of interest, lying and cheating.

Now, he’s been caught red-handed.

Not only that, but sources report that the IRS, Department of Labor and the U.S. Attorney are all aware of what is going on at the IAFF.

Schaitberger proclaims,

Sadly, there will likely be more smear attempts against me, our current Executive Board and those who have served our union in the past.

And about smearing, he once said of a local union president, Darren Bates, whom he was attempting to destroy,

I can do anything I want, he’s not an employee.

Harold Schaitberger is a master of the smear campaign.

What’s going on at the IAFF is a ray of sunshine in a very dark room and the cockroaches are skittering into the shadows.

Let the sun shine in.

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