National Legal and Policy Center

1309 Vincent Place, Suite 1000

McLean, Virginia 22101

Tel: (703) 847-3088/ Fax: (703) 847-6969

March 11, 1998

Mr. Craig Oswald
Assistant United States Attorney
Federal Building, Fifth Floor
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604

Mr. David Buvinger
Assistant United States Attorney
Federal Building, Fifth Floor
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604

Mr. J. Kenneth Lowrie
Criminal Division
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

RE: Robert D. Luskin actions that threaten the integrity of his investigation into Arthur A. Coia and the LIUNA internal reform program.

Dear Sirs:

This is a formal request that the United States (the Government) use its influence to have the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) dismiss General Executive Board Attorney Robert D. Luskin. Further, the Government should fully impose the terms of the consent decree as provided in the February 13, 1995 Agreement (the Agreement) between the Government and LIUNA.

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) is contacting you at the instruction of Frank J. Marine, Deputy Chief Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Department of Justice. Mr. Marine's November 8, 1996 response letter stated that NLPC should contact you if NLPC had specific details or information believed to be of interest to the Government in its oversight of the LIUNA internal reform program (letter attached).

For over three years, the Government has invested an incredible amount of trust in the scandal-ridden LIUNA by allowing LIUNA to pursue an internal reform program allegedly designed to remove the influence of organized crime.

This trust is unfounded especially in light of Mr. Luskin's recent actions which demonstrate a troubling conflict of interest.

Mr. Luskin was one of the fifteen signatories of the Agreement in which LIUNA averted a Government takeover similar to that of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1989. When signing the Agreement, Mr. Luskin committed to ensuring that all locals and other entities within LIUNA are rid of any corrupting influence of any member of organized crime. Mr. Luskin was also assigned the considerable responsibility, under the LIUNA Ethics and Disciplinary Procedure passed in 1995, of enforcing the Agreement with the authority to file charges against any member or officer of LIUNA.

To execute such obligations, Mr. Luskin should be required to perform his duties with the utmost integrity and impartiality. For Mr. Luskin to do otherwise would be an insult to LIUNA members and would make a mockery of the Agreement and the Landrum-Griffin Act.

Yet, in recent weeks, Mr. Luskin has insulted LIUNA members and has made a mockery of the Agreement. He has demonstrated a clear and overt bias which calls into question his integrity as well as his commitment to an impartial investigation of LIUNA General President Arthur A. Coia and to the LIUNA internal reform program.

In seven newspaper articles and three television appearances, Mr. Luskin has defended President William J. Clinton and attacked the Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr. Here are four illustrative examples:

"Robert Luskin, a former federal prosecutor who is a defense attorney in Washington, said Starr's inquiry has gone out of bounds. 'These are incredibly intrusive tactics that tend to be reserved by prosecutors for the most serious cases involving the most serious offenses,' Luskin said. 'In real life, you would never see a prosecutor using these tactics to pursue these kinds of allegations, even if he decided to investigate the case.'" (John Henry, "Has Starr gone too far?" Houston Chronicle , February 15, 1998.)

"While the federal perjury statute applies to private lawsuits, prosecutors rarely bring such cases to court, generally leaving it to litigants and judges to sort out who is lying and take appropriate action. 'If I'm the prosecutor that case is brought to, I would decline the case because it seems to me that you ought not to be indicting the president ofthe United States for things that you don't indict Joe Six-Pack for,' said criminal defense lawyer Robert Luskin." (Ruth Marcus, "Allegations Against Clinton Could Lead To Impeachment," Washington Post , January 22, 1998.)

"In an interview yesterday with PBS, Clinton strongly denied any such improper action, but did not respond to questions about whether he spoke with Lewinsky. Luskin said that is exactly why defense lawyers instruct clients not to talk to potential witnesses. 'You never know what someone will say about such conversations,' Luskin said. 'You want to eliminate the possibility of an occasion in which your client can be accused of saying these kinds of things.'" (Ruth Marcus, "Allegations Against Clinton Could Lead To Impeachment," Washington Post , January 22, 1998.)

"At the same time, legal experts said it was difficult to imagine Starr bringing a federal obstruction of justice case against Clinton or his partisans for what appears to be an exercise of their First Amendment rights. 'I'm stupefied,' said criminal defense lawyer Robert Luskin, a former federal prosecutor. 'What incredible bad judgment. I don't think you use the grand jury authority to harass people who are criticizing you. ...If the idea is that somehow you can't accuse the prosecutor of being an unscrupulous dog without trying to obstruct justice, that's crazy.'" (Ruth Marcus, "Legal Battle in Clinton Probe Getting 'Much Too Personal,'" Washington Post , February 25, 1998).

The following are Mr. Luskin's other media defenses of President Clinton to date:

"Burden of Proof," CNN , January 28, 1998.

Ruth Marcus, "As Ginsburg Broadcasts, Colleagues Air Their Disbelief," Washington Post , February 2, 1998.

Brian McGrory, "Clinton Prosecutors Enter Pivotal Stage of Investigation," Boston Globe , February 4, 1998.

Laurie Asseo, "Television Offers American Myriad Ways To Indulge In Latest Crazy -- Legal Watching," Associated Press, February 5, 1998.

"Burden of Proof," CNN , February 11, 1998.

"The Big Show," MSNBC , February 17, 1998.

Brian McGrory, "Lewinsky Lawyer Tells Altered Tale," Boston Globe , March 6, 1998.

Given the history of the LIUNA case, this is unacceptable conduct for Mr. Luskin. Aiding the President in this manner, demonstrates that Mr. Luskin has a clear bias which harms the objectivity of his investigation of Mr. Coia.

Ever since LIUNA averted a Government takeover in 1995, there have been credible allegations that Mr. Coia and LIUNA "got off easy" because of Mr. Coia's close friendship with the President and First Lady. Here is just a sample:

"In 1995-96, LIUNA was a major campaign cash source for President Clinton and his allies. LIUNA provided the Democratic National Committee with $421,400 in "soft money" contributions. LIUNA's Political Action Committee, the Laborer's Political League, disbursed $2.3 million in 1995-96 for the elections with the overwhelming majority going to allies of the President. According to Federal Election Commission reports, LIUNA is on pace for similar figures in 1998.

Mr. Coia is reported to have a remarkable level of access with the President and First Lady. A regular visitor at the White House, Coia has had private breakfasts with the First Lady. He flew on Air Force One with the President to Haiti, and he was invited to Denver to see the Pope. Mrs. Coia was named to the site selection committee for the 1996 Democratic National Convention. In June 1994, Mr. Coia co-hosted a huge dinner for the DNC which raised $3.5 million.

In 1994, Mr. Coia gave President Clinton a golf club emblazoned with the Presidential seal. The President returned the favor by giving Mr. Coia a Calloway "Divine Nine" club. The President wrote Mr. Coia, "Dear Arthur, I just heard you've become a grandfather -- Congratulations! Thanks for the gorgeous driver -- it's a work of art. Best, Bill."

Given that at least an appearance exists that the Clinton-Coia friendship saved Mr. Coia from dismissal and LIUNA from a Government takeover, Mr. Luskin should have imposed the strictest policy impartiality on subjects pertaining to the President so as to avoid even the slightest appearance of a conflict of interest and bias. Mr. Luskin should have said "no comment" when asked by reporters about the legal affairs of President Clinton. Mr. Luskin should have declined offers to appear on television shows discussing the legal affairs of President Clinton. But he did not; and in not doing so, Mr. Luskin compromised his investigation of Mr. Coia and his commitment to the LIUNA internal reform program.

Further, calling into question Mr. Luskin's impartiality towards Mr. Coia was Mr. Luskin's recent attack on NLPC. In a letter to U.S. Representative Frank Mascara, Mr. Luskin defended Mr. Coia against NLPC criticism. (NLPC is unable to attach a copy of Mr. Luskin's letter because he has refused to give NLPC a copy. NLPC has knowledge of the letter because a of January 12, 1998 article in the Nashville Banner which is attached.)

As the Government is aware, NLPC is highly critical of Mr. Coia and strongly believes that because of his links to organized crime that he should not be allowed to remain as LIUNA General President. As long as Mr. Coia remains at LIUNA, so will organized crime.

Nevertheless, it is in no way appropriate for Mr. Luskin to defend Mr. Coia against such criticism. That is a job for LIUNA's press secretary or Mr. Coia himself. Mr. Luskin is not charged with LIUNA public relations; he is charged with impartially cleaning up this mob-dominated union.

Mr. Luskin, however, has demonstrated he is incapable of impartiality. He has a clear and overt bias favoring President Clinton and Mr. Coia. If Mr. Luskin appears to have links or sympathies with one side, how can a fair investigation and proper oversight be conducted? Some will not have confidence in Mr. Luskin's impartiality; and thus, they will be far less cooperative with the investigation and other matters. Others will perceive Mr. Luskin as an ally and try to use him, directly or indirectly, to their advantage. Mr. Luskin's apparent conflict of interest places the integrity of the LIUNA internal reform program in serious question.

Without an oversight offical who is, and is perceived to be, totally and unquestionably impartial, the rank-and-file LIUNA member suffers. Union democracy suffers. LIUNA members deserve a corruption-free union and should not have to tolerate any more corruption and embarrassment.

Given this information, NLPC respectfully requests that the Government take whatever action is available and appropriate to have Mr. Luskin immediately relieved of his duties at LIUNA. The Government should act before the March 18, 1998 hearing by LIUNA Independent Hearing Officer Peter Varia into Mr. Luskin's -- now suspicious -- charges against Mr. Coia. Further, NLPC requests that the Government immediately dismiss Mr. Coia and implement the pending consent decree as provided for in the Agreement because of the damage done to the LIUNA internal reform program by Mr. Luskin's recent conduct.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Kenneth Boehm, Esq.



U.S. Attorney Scott R. Lassar

U.S. Representative Henry J. Hyde

U.S. Representative Bill McCollum

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All original work Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.