Hartford Advocate

The Company He Keeps

Gov. John Rowland's Ties To The Troubled Laborers' Union

By Ken Krayeske and Jarrett Murphy
Published 04/15/99

To say that the 750,000-member Laborers Inter-national Union of North America had a good reputation would be--hmmm, how should we put it?--way off. Congress has investigated the union, the Department of Justice has ordered it to clean house or face a government takeover, an internal probe just fined the union's leader $100,000 for ethics lapses and there's a racketeering suit by former members of the Connecticut Laborers chapter, Local 230, underway in federal court in Bridgeport. One of the plaintiffs in that suit, former Local 230 vice president Steve Manos, says he was even threatened with physical violence by business manager Charles LeConche because Manos questioned LeConche's finances. Mob ties to Laborers' locals in other states are a matter of record.

Still, when the Connecticut Laborers District Council met in late March for an awards ceremony, Gov. John Rowland showed up as a special guest in what people who attended say was a regular buddy-buddy back-slap fest.

Manos says he has called the governor's office to tell them about the Laborers' troubles. But according to Rowland spokesperson Dean Pagani, the governor was "probably not even aware of it."

The LIUNA gave almost $50,000 to the 1998 gubernatorial campaigns, but that expenditure is not out of line for the union, whose leaders are top Democratic donors. National union president Arthur Coia and President Clinton have swapped golf clubs, according to the National Review, and Coia has given the Dems $1.2 million over the past two years. Perhaps that cozy relationship is why the Department of Justice went soft on the national organization, and might be why Johnny Gov feels so comfortable shootin' the stink with the boys at the District Council.

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