Friday, April 6, 2007

NOW, Hillary and IPA money

The National Organization for Women proudly endorsed Hillary Clinton for president recently despite her reluctance for nearly a year to return money from a company accused of sexually harassing more than 100 women employees.

According to a Judicial Watch blog posting last month, Clinton is still deciding whether to return more than $150,000 from executives at International Profit Associates based in Buffalo Grove, Il., a Chicago suburb.

Hillary said the same thing last year when the New York Times profiled IPA's founder John Burgess, a man with a long checkered past, including a disbarment, an attempted grand larceny conviction, a guilty plea for patronizing a 16-year-old prostitute and a continuing trail of fraud allegations by clients of his business.

Also pending against IPA is the largest sexual harassment action ever by the Chicago office of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the Chicago Tribune, the complaint alleges that 50 male employees including Burgess harassed 101 female employees. Oprah Winfrey had some of those women on her show last year to talk about the allegations.

Since about 2002, politicians have returned tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions to IPA and Burgess. Ethically challenged Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has returned more than $100,000 from IPA. Andrew M. Cuomo, who ran for Attorney General in New York and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle are among the others who have also purged their IPA money.

Hillary, meanwhile, continues to ponder what to do.

If you read this 2000 Inc. magazine profile of Burgess and IPA, and several websites that have sprung to monitor complaints against the firm, it is clear that this firm is questionable at the very least. Using high-pressure sales techniques, it visits small and medium sized businesses promising management consulting advice. Those who fall for the pitch are left with $20,000 in bills and little to show for it, according to business owners such as these plaintiffs in a recently filed class action lawsuit.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, another liberal feminist Democrat, is among those investigating IPA.

Meanwhile, back at the Clinton compound where they proudly display the NOW endorsement, a review continues on whether to keep money from a firm that is accused of exploiting women and small business owners.

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