"Promoting Ethics in Government"

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 28, 1999

CONTACT: Dan Rene, 703-847-3088 or

Watchdog Group Praises LIUNA Member's Appeal of Lenient Fines

Ohio Bosses Enabled Convicted Felon to Run for Union Office

WASHINGTON -- Today the National Legal and Policy Center, a union corruption watchdog group, commends Darrell Smoot, a member of Laborers' Int'l Union of North America Local 423 in Columbus, Ohio, for appealing the 'too lenient' fines ranging from only $800 to $400 -- of Local 423's officers who wrongfully enabled a convicted felon to run for union office. "Smoot is standing up to the union boss machine, and that is to be commended," said NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm. "From Chicago to Columbus, from Connecticut to California, we have routinely come across examples of LIUNA's failed 'internal reform effort' slapping hard-working members in the face."

In December 1998, Smoot filed charges with LIUNA's failed "internal reform effort" against several Local 423 officers after the U.S. Department of Labor determined that the local's newly elected vice-president, Pat Murphy, was ineligible to hold office. Murphy had been convicted of second-degree robbery in New York 14 years earlier and, under federal law, was ineligible to hold office until at least this year. Murphy spent two years in prison. Local 423 elected Murphy in June 1998 to vice-president and also delegate to the Ohio Laborers' District Council. In January 1999, DOL supervised a rerun of both races.

Smoot asserts that before and during the campaign, he repeatedly told local officers about Murphy's conviction. In August 1999, LIUNA's "in-house judge" Peter F. Vaira found that five current and former officers of Local 423 had notice about Murphy's conviction but failed to act. He fined Murphy and business agent Robert McCaskill $800 each; three others were fined $400. Smoot told the Columbus Dispatch on September 25, 1999 that the fines were slaps on the wrist and that he was appealing the penalty portion of the decision. "My goal was to have them kicked out of office," Smoot said.

The fined bosses have also appealed. The appeals will be heard by W. Neil Eggleston, the personal attorney of Bill Clinton and DOL Secretary Alexis M. Herman for scandal related matters. "Smoot is right. These fines are mere slaps on the wrist to these corrupt bosses," said Boehm. "It is yet another illustration why a U.S. District Judge and the Department of Justice -- not LIUNA President Arthur A. Coia and his cronies, should be clean up this historically corrupt union."

NLPC's Organized Labor Accountability Project is investigating and exposing corruption in the Teamsters, LIUNA, HERE, AFL-CIO and other labor organizations. NLPC publishes Union Corruption Update, a fortnightly newsletter. NLPC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit foundation promoting ethics and accountability in government through research, education and legal action.

Please visit for more on LIUNA's failed "internal reform effort" and its ethically-challenged "in-house prosecutor" Robert D. Luskin.

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