The Associated Press


Jury Gets Case of Teamster Exec Charged In Funding Scheme

November 18, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jurors are deliberating the case of a union executive charged with a funding-swap scheme allegedly designed to benefit ousted Teamsters President Ron Carey.

William Hamilton, the Teamsters former political director, is accused of donating $885,000 from the cash-strapped union to political and liberal groups in exchange for return donations to Carey's faltering re-election campaign.

Deliberations in U.S. District Court began Wednesday. Hamilton is charged with conspiracy, embezzlement, mail fraud, wire fraud, lying to an election officer and perjury.

Richard Sullivan, former finance director of the Democratic National Committee, testified that President Clinton's close friend and chief fund-raiser, Terence McAuliffe, urged him and others to get a Democratic donor to give Carey $50,000.

Sullivan testified that, in exchange, McAuliffe had said the Teamsters would contribute $500,000 to a Democratic fund raising group.

McAuliffe "said that if we could get a $50,000 contribution for the Carey campaign, he knew we could get $500,000 for Unity from the Teamsters," Sullivan testified.

Unity was a fund-raising vehicle for the Clinton-Gore campaign and other Democrats in the House and Senate.

McAuliffe is not charged with any crime and his lawyer, Richard Ben-Veniste, said he is cooperating with prosecutors. Ben-Veniste said McAuliffe had merely raised the notion of finding a wealthy donor for Carey as a fund-raising option.

"Terry McAuliffe did not encourage anybody to pursue this possibility," Ben-Veniste told The New York Times. "Nor did he personally attempt to raise any funds in this manner for Mr. Carey."

The Democrats did not, in the end, produce a donor for Carey, and the Teamsters did not give $500,000 to Unity.

But prosecutors say the union's contributions to other organizations, including one for senior citizens and another which encouraged people to vote, were staggering in their size, especially because the union was nearly broke.

Hamilton's lawyer, Robert Gage, says his client was being railroaded by two Carey aides who pleaded guilty in the case.

Gage said the contributions to the political organizations were a legitimate effort by the union to gain clout with an increasingly hostile White House and Congress.

Carey narrowly defeated James P. Hoffa in the 1996 Teamsters election, but the election was overturned after investigators found that Carey's campaign had improperly benefited from donations the union made to the organizations.

Carey and Hamilton were barred for life from joining or working for the union by an independent review board in Washington.

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