By THOMAS GALVIN
Daily News Washington Bureau
Jan. 8, 1998
Sen. Alfonse D'Amato and a political group
he headed got $24,000 from the same labor union his operatives
cited to claim potential Senate foe Geraldine Ferraro has ties
to organized crime.
Laborers' International Union boss Arthur
Coia, whom GOP operatives are linking to Ferraro socially, also
attended a D'Amato fund-raiser in recent years, according to sources.
From 1989-96, D'Amato directly received $15,000
from the Laborers' International Union, and the National Republican
Senatorial Committee got $9,000 in 1995-96, when D'Amato was chairman
of the committee, according to federal election records.
"When this matter came to our attention
in 1997, Friends of D'Amato returned all contributions" for
the 1998 campaign, said D'Amato campaign consultant Kieren Mahoney,
adding that the senator no longer is chairman of the Senate group.
Ferraro campaign chief David Eichenbaum said,
"This is a typical D'Amato tactic, playing both sides of
an issue and hoping no one notices. This kind of politics as usual
is one of the things people are most tired of about Al D'Amato."
The bulk of D'Amato's donations came after
1994 news reports that the Justice Department was actively pursuing
racketeering charges against the union and Coia.
Justice ultimately never brought charges,
although it was critical of Coia and the union - which says it
has since taken steps to reform itself.
In July 1997, D'Amato's campaign returned
$5,000 - a year after a Justice Department internal memo labeled
Coia and the union a "mob puppet." The other $19,000
has not been returned by D'Amato or the GOP group.
An additional $10,000 was given by Laborers'
International to the Senate group in October 1995 but was immediately
returned by D'Amato.
The financial connections are surprising
considering D'Amato operatives' attacks on Ferraro's alleged ties
to Coia and the 750,000-member union. The operatives have said
Ferraro was socializing with Coia well after reports raised questions
about his mob connections, denied by the labor boss.
Coia also has met with D'Amato at least once.
He attended a fund-raiser for the senator in either 1995 or 1996,
according to sources.
The union has been more closely aligned with
the White House and Democrats, but several New York Republicans
have gotten Laborers' International cash, including Long Island
Reps. Pete King and Michael Forbes.
Last night, Ferraro suggested in a TV interview
on New York that she's ready to put the heat on D'Amato for what
she says are his questionable associations. "He had at one
time gone in and been a character witness for someone who was
an organized crime figure," Ferraro said. "He kissed
him on both cheeks when he walked in. That's associating."
Ferraro apparently was referring to D'Amato's 1983 testimony for Philip Basile, who was convicted of conspiring with the late Queens crime boss Paul Vario to gain another mobster's release from prison.