The Edward M. Kennedy Institute

SEIU and the legislative career of Sen. Ted Kennedy. Fifteenth in a series.

Thousands of home-based health care providers have been forced into a union because they receive assistance from the state while they take care of loved ones who are disabled. The Service Employees International Union receives close to $6 million annually in forced dues from this abusive arrangement. 

House Bill 4003 would end this injustice by clarifying that Michiganders who care for relatives in their own homes are not government employees, and hence are not appropriate targets for government unions. That bill has passed the House but is stuck in the Senate. While we wait for the Senate to act, the SEIU continues to siphon money that was meant to help families.

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Here's another example of where that money might be going, drawn from the SEIU's 2010 LM-2 report:

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate received a $250,000 charitable donation from SEIU in 2010. EMKI is in the process of designing and building a 40,000 square foot building near the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Boston, which will house a library, classrooms and museum complete with a mockup of the U.S. Senate chamber. The Institute has also taken ownership of the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Mass. EMKI's purpose is essentially twofold: to inform the public about the workings of the Senate, and "celebrate the legislative career of Senator Edward M. Kennedy."

The Institute's future plans include holding mock legislatures for students, creating curricula for teachers to use in teaching civics, and providing "in-depth" training for government officials and students at UMass.

While the Kennedy Institute is among the SEIU's less egregious beneficiaries, the public policy programs it operates will still be vulnerable to misuse for political and ideological purposes. The Institute itself is largely dedicated to the memory of a fierce liberal and partisan Democrat, which does not by itself mean that the Edward M. Kennedy Institute is not a legitimate beneficiary of charity, but it does at least suggest that, even in its pursuit of legitimate charitable and educational work, partisan politics is still on the minds of decision makers at the SEIU. It is one of many groups with clear political agendas that Michigan taxpayers may be helping to support, using funds that were meant to help families of people with disabilities.

Tomorrow: Kos Media


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