Buffalo News



DOUGLAS TURNER - News Washington Bureau Chief
September 25, 1996

WASHINGTON --Jack Kemp said today a mob informant's claim that he had been involved with organized-crime figures "is the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard." He said the congressman who is calling for an inquiry into the allegations "should be ashamed of himself."

"I am not, nor have I ever been, involved, and everybody who knows me knows that," Kemp said on ABC this morning. "I welcome anybody who would lay out any fact that would accuse me of any active crime or being tied to the mob."

Citing testimony that mob informant Ronald J. Fino reportedly gave to the FBI in 1988, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee has asked for an investigation into whether Kemp helped allegedly shady businesses that contributed to his campaigns win government contracts.

Fino, a longtime official of mob-related Laborers Local 210 in the 1970s, became an FBI informant in the 1980s. He is now a consultant in Labor Department efforts to clean up the International Laborers Union.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary panel, released his letter Tuesday asking Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., to bring Fino back here to talk with committee investigators about information he gave to the FBI about campaign money that some Buffalo businessmen gave Kemp.

According to Conyers' letter, these contributors had mob ties and Kemp may have done favors for them either during his nine terms representing suburban Buffalo in Congress or when he was secretary of housing and urban development from 1989-1992.

The Buffalo News is withholding the names of the companies mentioned by Conyers in his letter.

Fino "alleges that an allegedly prominent and well-known organized-crime figure supported a fund-raising event for Secretary Kemp," Conyers charged.

"A 1988 congressional hearing confirmed that one of Secretary Kemp's contributors . . . was a corporation linked to firms with alleged organized-crime connections in Buffalo and Kansas City."

"It's just so ludicrous," Kemp said in this morning's interview with ABC. "John Conyers should really be ashamed of himself, and I just feel sorry -- not angry just sorry - that he has to get into this type of political mudslinging so late in the campaign."

Kemp expressed frustration at how to answer the allegations: "How do you say, 'I am not a member of the mob?' How do you say it and not say 'Kemp denies being member of the mob.' "

In July, Fino was called by Republicans to testify that a Rhode Island labor leader befriended by Clinton was actually a tool of the Mafia.

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