Carey disqualified from rerun election

November 17, 1997

WASHINGTON - A court-appointed monitor disqualified Teamsters President Ron Carey from a rerun election Monday, finding that Carey was involved in an illegal scheme to funnel union funds into his campaign coffers.

The decision was issued by former federal judge Kenneth Conboy, acting as a special adjudicator under the federal cleanup of the union. It was not immediately clear whether Carey would appeal.

Conboy's decision leaves James P. Hoffa on the ballot as union reformers scrambled to find a new candidate.

Carey's re-election over challenger James P. Hoffa last year was set aside Aug. 22 by a federal monitor who found that an illegal fund-raising scheme may have contributed to his slim margin of victory.

At the time, the officer, Barbara Zack Quindel, found noreasonto disqualify Carey, who had run on an anticorruption platform.

Soon after, she gained access to key witnesses and began reviewing Carey's eligibility. Campaign manager Jere Nash and two consultants pleaded guilty Sept. 18 to conspiring to raise illegal funds.

But Quindel's inquiry had just begun when she recused herself, saying new testimony implicated a business associate of one of her investigators.

U.S. District Court Judge David Edelstein appointed Conboy, who serves as an appeals officer in the Teamsters cleanup process, to complete the Carey investigation. Conboy's inquiry began Sept. 29.

A federal grand jury investigation into the affair is continuing, and the leaders of other labor organizations and political groups could face charges.

The union's federally appointed Independent Review Board, which has the power to expel union officers, also is investigating.

In October, Carey sought to portray himself as a leader far removed from the day-to-day operations of the 1.4 million-member union and the campaign - and therefore unaware of the conspiracy.

"I don't think any one man in any organization ... can know everything, and I don't think he's expected to," he told reporters.

Carey said he hired people he trusted to run the campaign, yet he maintained that he hardly had any contact with Nash or Davis.

"They designed a scheme certainly to rip off this union - rip me off in terms of my credibility," Carey said. "You can't control people. People step over the line. They abuse their authority."

Scandal is nothing new to the Teamsters, the nation's largest private sector union. Three international presidents, including Hoffa's father, James R. Hoffa, were sent to prison. The Justice Department has alleged that several were controlled by organized crime.

But Carey has been a hero to labor reformers since winning the first rank-and-file election for Teamsters president, which was held under the terms of a federal consent decree the union signed in 1989 to avoid racketeering charges.

Since taking office in 1992, Carey has sold off the jets that used to ferry Teamsters leaders across the country and placed in trusteeship some 75 locals that were accused of corruption.

He also invested in organizing new members, and he led 180,000 workers through a successful 15-day strike against United Parcel Service last summer that ranked as one of labor's greatest victories in a decade.

But the union's finances have dwindled during his administration and he failed to unite the membership.

His opponents accused him of using the cleanup process to neutralize his political enemies.

Carey beat Hoffa by less than 4 percentage points in a mail-in ballot last December. About one-third of all Teamsters voted in the contest, which cost the federal government about $20 million.

A federal grand jury in New York is investigating other alleged schemes run by Nash and Davis, as well as the union's ties to the Democratic Party.

Court documents filed by federal prosecutors also alleged AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka helped channel $150,000 in Teamsters funds to Carey through the liberal consumer group Citizen Action, and that unidentified union leaders raised cash for Carey in violation of federal law.

By The Associated Press

Return to

All original work Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.