By Kevin Galvin
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, July 30, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) --
Court-appointed overseers responsible for ridding the Teamsters
union of organized crime figures reacted angrily Thursday to accusations
they were biased against opponents of former Teamsters President
At a hearing before the House Education and
Workforce subcommittee, former U.S. District Judge Frederick Lacy
called the accusations from Republicans on the House panel unfair.
Lacy and another lifelong Republican and
one time-federal judge -- former FBI Director William Webster
-- and United Mine Workers union general counsel Grant Crandall
form a three-member Independent Review Board established to fight
corruption in the Teamsters union.
The board, created as part of a 1989 consent
decree the Teamsters signed with the Justice Department, is widely
credited with helping to clean up the union by trusteeing corrupt
locals and forcing members and associates of the Mafia to resign.
During earlier hearings, Republican committee
members had embraced testimony from witnesses who felt they were
wronged by Carey and suggested that the IRB had been biased against
Carey's opponents within the union.
Quoting from hearing transcripts, Cassandra
Lenchner, the Democratic counsel on the House panel, asked the
IRB officials Thursday to respond to GOP accusations that the
board tired to protect Carey and that ``Lacey doesn't really want
to get involved too much in learning things that seem to go against
his own judgement.''
``I can't understand how people who are responsible
and know what we've done here can engage in that,'' Lacey responded.
``This is not fair.''
He asked members of the House committee who
had any other questions about his performance to ask them now,
``instead of waiting until I'm absent.''
Former U.S. Attorney Charles Carberry, who
acts as the IRB's chief investigator and recommends charges to
a three-member panel, was choked with emotion when asked if internal
union politics ever influenced his decision to bring charges.
``I took an oath,'' he said Thursday. ``I
have never let my personal opinion interfere with my professional
Teamsters communications director Matt Witt
also appeared at Thursday's hearing but an effort by the panel's
Democrats to let him testify was ruled out of order by Chairman
Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich.
Last week, the committee's Republican counsel,
Victoria Toensing, said Witt had resigned from the union and had
been spotted shredding documents over the weekend. Witt said Thursday
he had not resigned and he denounced Toensing's remarks as an
effort to generate negative publicity about the union.
``People like Matt Witt deserve an apology,
and I think each of you deserve an apology,'' Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisc.,
told the IRB members. ``We've got to end this character assassination
that's been going on for too long in this investigation.''
Hoekstra said the committee's staff would
use its newly won power to conduct sworn depositions to ``get
to the bottom of the allegation.''
Carey was expelled from the union on Monday
after the review board said he was responsible for illegally directing
$885,000 in union funds to third-party political groups to boost
his 1996 re-election over James P. Hoffa for the union's presidency.
Hoekstra's subcommittee has been investigating
the possible involvement of Democratic party officials in the
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press