Jan. 20, 1998
By Peter Szekely
Jan 20, 1998
- Lawyers for embattled Teamsters Union President Ron Carey tried
to show Tuesday he knew nothing of an illegal 1996 fund-raising
scheme his campaign aides concocted until the scandal erupted
With Carey's dwindling future in the union
at stake, his lawyers tried at a special hearing to paint a picture
of a busy union leader distracted by bad knees and a tough re
election campaign who delegated authority to subordinates and
was easily manipulated by his unscrupulous, greedy campaign aides.
Testifying before the union's court-appointed
Independent Review Board (IRB), attorney Susan Davis, who represented
Carey's campaign, said she had no reason to believe Carey knew
of the scheme when she learned of it and told him on March 12,
1997, two months after he was declared the winner in the election.
``He was very upset,'' Davis told a packed
hearing conducted by the three-member panel. ``He sat down in
his chair and said 'Jesus Christ,' or words to that effect.''
Asked by Carey defense attorney Reid Weingarten
if Carey could have faked his reaction to the news, she said:
``I don't think so. I mean, I've known the man for 15 years.''
Carey's re-election in early 1997 was nullified
by a court appointed election officer after it was discovered
that his campaign aides had laundered hundreds of thousands of
dollars from the union's treasury into Carey's campaign coffers
through a complex network of contribution swaps.
Despite Carey's vehement denials that he
knew of the scheme, another court-appointed officer barred him
last autumn from running in a new election of the 1.4 million-member
International Brotherhood of Teamsters after finding that he knew
of the scheme and took part in some aspects of it.
U.S. District Court Judge David Edelstein,
who oversees the union under a 1989 settlement of a federal racketeering
lawsuit, on Dec. 30 upheld the decision to bar Carey from the
rerun election. Carey's lawyers said they will appeal.
Carey, who has been on unpaid leave from
his post for about two months, is battling charges by the IRB's
investigator that could result in his permanent ouster from the
union if upheld.
Such a finding by the IRB would disqualify
him from serving as an officer of the New York City local he has
headed for 30 years and would bode badly for him in the ongoing
criminal investigation of the scandal by New York federal prosecutors.
Davis and attorney Michael Smith who represented
the union, testified that Carey did not hesitate to order incriminating
information turned over to the government and to waive attorney-client
privileges for his campaign staff when he learned of the financial
improprieties last March.
In his opening statement, Weingarten portrayed
the evidence against Carey as ``extremely thin'' and based on
the testimony of his former campaign aides who are awaiting sentencing
for their part in the plan and who would not appear at the hearing
The aides, Jere Nash and Martin Davis (no
relation to Susan Davis), pleaded guilty to charges stemming from
``If Ron was a co-conspirator with Nash and
Davis, the last thing he would ever do is instruct his attorney
to waive the (attorney-client) privilege,'' said Weingarten.
Lawyers for Carey and former Teamsters Union
Government Affairs Director William Hamilton, who is also fighting
charges before the IRB, complained that they were unable to compel
Nash and Martin Davis to appear at the hearing, even though charges
against their clients are based on their statements.
``I can't confront the accuser,'' said Hamilton
attorney Robert Gage. ``I can't say it more directly than that.''
Much of the case against Carey is based on
his approval of union donations of more than $700,000 to certain
liberal groups. Other donors then were instructed to make payments
to the Carey campaign instead of those liberal groups.
Carey's administrative assistant at the union,
Theresa Sherman, testified that his executive secretary Monian
Simpkins told her she approved some of the payments while Carey
was out campaigning and difficult to reach because Nash had told
her Carey did not want to be bothered about them.
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.