Hoffa: Union Will Police Itself

By Alice Ann Love
Associated Press Writer
July 30, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Teamsters President James P. Hoffa is asking the Justice Department to let the union police itself against organized crime in its ranks after a decade of federal supervision. "It's time for a fresh review of this," Hoffa said.

The union will adopt a new code of conduct to be enforced from within, Hoffa announced Thursday. Also, the Teamsters have hired a former federal prosecutor to investigate whether mob influences still remain 10 years of government supervision. "If there are vestiges of organized crime, we're going to find them and we're going to ferret them out," said Hoffa.

Hoffa won the Teamsters' presidency and was sworn in in March after promising to root out corruption and seek an end to federal oversight that the union agreed to in 1989 in order to avoid racketeering charges brought by the Justice Department.

In a letter, dated June 16, to Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, Hoffa said he believes that the Teamsters can demonstrate that there is no longer a need for federal intervention in their affairs.

A spokesman for Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who is the Justice Department official in charge of Teamsters oversight, said that her office had replied to Hoffa's letter inviting union officials to set a date to meet with her. "We look forward to meeting and working with the new leadership of the IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters) to ensure that the progress under the consent decree continues," said White's spokesman, Marvin Smilon.

Ken Paff, a national organizer for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a faction that opposed Hoffa's election, said the union's recent campaign finance scandal should be taken as proof that some federal oversight is still needed.

Hoffa's election to the Teamsters' presidency last year came after his loss to incumbent Ron Carey in 1996 was set aside when investigators found that Carey's campaign had improperly benefited from donations the union made to third-party political organizations. "One of the chief functions of federal monitors has been to ensure fair elections," said Paff. "Are we going to stop having supervision of our elections?"

Hoffa's father, Jimmy Hoffa, built the Teamsters into a national powerhouse, but was sent to prison for jury tampering and misusing union funds. He disappeared in 1975, and is presumed a victim of organized crime. "I think he'd be proud of what I'm doing," Hoffa said.

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