Your Government at Work

The next time someone tells you that a larger, more intrusive federal bureaucracy is just what the doctor ordered, refer that someone to this:

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George Cohen is resigning only days after learning he is a target of a congressional inquiry spurred by a Washington Examiner series.

The Examiner series reported that FMCS employees spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on luxuries and that top officials retaliated against employees who questioned the spending.

“I have notified President Obama that I intend to resign as Director, effective December 31, 2013,” Cohen told employees in a memo obtained by the Examiner.

“I am happy to report that I leave the agency in very good shape with the admiration and respect coming from private parties, federal government agencies, and public sector organizations and their respective union representatives.

“I also gave Scot and Allison special thanks for their untiring efforts and the superb quality of their performances,” he said, referring to his deputies.

Allison Beck-Chernikoff and her sister-in-law, Bonnie Chernikoff, who is Cohen’s administrative assistant, participated in no-bid contracting and spending on luxury items, emails reviewed by the Washington Examiner showed. Scot L. Beckenbaugh is another deputy of Cohen’s.

Asked whether Obama White House officials pressured Cohen to resign, FMCS spokesman John Arnold would say only that “we are in contact with the committee. Director Cohen has no further comment.”

Cohen is a union man who is receiving a pension from the United Steelworkers of America and held a position with the National Hockey League Players’ Association at the time President Obama appointed him in 2009.

At a salary of $165,000, he oversaw the 230-person agency with a budget of $50 million that provides non-binding, voluntary arbitration between private companies’ and governments’ managers and unions.

“Let me give you the honest truth: A lot of FMCS employees don’t do a hell of a lot, including myself. Personally, the reason that I’ve stayed is that I just don’t feel like working that hard, plus the location on K Street is great, plus we all have these oversized offices with windows, plus management doesn’t seem to care if we stay out at lunch a long time. Can you blame me?” said an FMCS employee who asked for anonymity.

“The agency really needs to be incorporated back into the Department of Labor, the way it was back in the early days, or totally eliminated,” the employee said.

Upset by this story? Well, I am about to make it worse by inviting you to contemplate all of the other instances of corruption and abuse that are likely occurring at the highest reaches of the federal bureaucracy–abuse which we don’t even know about yet.