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Feds ramp up probe into former IAFF president’s financial activities

Harold Schaitberger’s financial conduct is again under review; IAFF intends to cooperate, saying “the organization’s status, if any, is that of a victim”


Federal authorities are again investigating Harold Schaitberger, the former general president of the IAFF.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

By FireRescue1 staff

WASHINGTON — Federal authorities are ramping up their investigation into Harold Schaitberger, the former general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).

Politico reported that a subpoena was signed in on Nov. 29, 2021, for IAFF records detailing information related to the former president and internal IAFF policies. Specifically, the subpoena ordered the organization appear before a grand jury in December, plus “a series of documents pertaining to Schaitberger including his ‘personnel file’ as well as those related to employment records, travel, expenses, use of IAFF debit or credit cards or use of IAFF landline or cell phone numbers. It also requested documents related to IAFF policies on financial practices and use of union credit or debit cards.”

The latest probe comes over a year after IAFF officials accused Schaitberger of financial misconduct. Then-IAFF treasurer Edward Kelly alleged Schaitberger took $1 million from union pension coffers despite still working there, and failed to pay taxes on millions of dollars in income over the past two decades, in addition to apparently using union funds to cover personal expenses. An IAFF internal review later found no financial misconduct on Schaitberger’s part for issues related to retirement payments.

The federal investigation in 2020 stalled, but as Politico reports, “the new subpoena is much broader than the original, according to someone with direct knowledge of the case, suggesting that authorities are either ramping up the investigation or are attempting to jump-start an investigation into Schaitberger again.”

IAFF attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger indicated that the association intends to cooperate fully with the investigation, “given that the organization’s status, if any, is that of a victim,” he said.

Leading up to the 2020 election, Schaitberger served as one of Joe Biden’s key allies, and the IAFF endorsed Biden, a move that ignited heated debate among firefighters throughout the country, with some unions even breaking rank to support Donald Trump.