Associated Press

Judge Withdraws Teamsters Demand

August 17, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge backed down Monday from ordering the entire Teamsters executive board to appear in his New York courtroom to discuss funding for the union's upcoming election.

In a one-page order, U.S. District Judge David Edelstein said he had been persuaded by objections raised by the union's attorneys.

The attorneys had objected that the Teamsters board already twice rejected funding the election and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government was bound to pay by the terms of a 1989 consent decree.

They also argued that forcing all 22 board members to appear on Wednesday would disrupt union business.

The 1996 Teamsters election was financed with $17.5 million in taxpayer funds under the terms of the consent decree the union signed with the Justice Department.

The election was corrupted by a contribution-swap scheme that the re-election campaign of Teamsters President Ron Carey engineered. The Teamsters treasury was pilfered of more than $800,000.

Congressional Republicans have authorized the Justice Department to pay for about half the estimated $8.6 million cost of the rerun election. The union, emboldened by the appeals court decision, has refused to put up the other half.

Also Monday, a West Coast fund-raiser who helped raise funds for a committee that supported Carey's campaign in exchange for Teamsters' donations to liberal grass-roots causes pleaded guilty to lying to the court-appointed officer who oversaw the election.

Charles Blitz denied to the election officer that Michael Ansara, who has also pleaded guilty, approached him about the scheme and facilitated the contributions.

Blitz faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and possibly restitution. His sentencing was set for Dec. 2.

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