NOT SO BENEVOLENT
In its letter, the BPPA also claims that it contributes to other charities. "Aside from the scholarship fund," the letter on their site reads, "the BPPA makes extremely generous donations from its general fund to any worthwhile organization . . . we have donated tens of thousands of dollars to youth sports, school groups, and charitable causes affecting police officers, their families, and the general public on an annual basis."
And in a 2010 Pax column, BPPA treasurer Thomas Pratt boasts that the union has donated money to causes ranging from "youth baseball, basketball, hockey, swim teams, cheerleading, Pop Warner football, and a myriad of other youth activities."
But neither of these claims are supported by recent financial documents. A review of BPPA expenditures from 2007 to 2010 have no mention of giving to any outside organizations. A section for listing such donations is blank.
None of that's to say the BPPA doesn't keep careful records of outgoing funds. In 2009 and 2010, they duly recorded treating themselves to nearly $100,000 in golf outings and retirement parties, and spending roughly half a million dollars on lawyers to defend members in labor and criminal matters. They also funnel more than $50,000 annually to their political action committee, a separate entity used for lobbying.
Cops are known to protect on their own — even at the whiff of corruption. But as more mysteries unravel in the curious case of the Pax, some current and retired BPPA members are trying to use the momentum to push for reform. "This issue has been around for a long time," says Willie Bradley, a retired BPD deputy superintendent and member of MAMLEO's legal team. "Now that we have the attention, we'd definitely like to move on this."
Bradley says that many active-duty MAMLEO officers fear retribution from their fellow BPPA members if they speak out. Still, he says, the association will soon demand action from the union and the department; according to Bradley, MAMLEO will even formally ask commissioner Ed Davis to consider disciplining Pax editor James Carnell for exhibiting conduct unbecoming a police officer.
"We haven't decided exactly how we're going to act on it," continues Bradley, "but we're already working with members of the community to speak out against [the BPPA]. For now, I can at least say that we're breathless with anticipation for what will appear in the next Pax issue."
Follow Chris Faraone on Twitter @fara1. His book on Occupy, 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, is out now.
CORRECTION: This story originally stated incorrectly that Commonwealth Productions’ purpose statement “included” charitable solicitation for the BPPA. In fact, its statement excluded such solitication. This story has been updated to reflect the correct information.
UPDATED: This story has been updated with more detailed information about the charges against Hutchinson and Gargano.