|The Ron Carey Campaign
Calling Probe a 'Circus,' Teamsters' Top Lobbyist Quits
by Kevin Galvin
WASHINGTON (AP) Complaining that a federal probe into last year's Teamsters election had become a circus, the union's political director has abruptly resigned.
Bill Hamilton sent a letter to union President Ron Carey on Tuesday saying he could no longer cooperate with federal officials he accused of leaking documents to damage the 1.4-million-member union.
"The turmoil created by the prolonged investigation by the U.S. attorney in New York, the delay in certification of the union election results and the calculated external distribution of documents held by federal investigators have made it very hard to get any real work done," Hamilton said in the letter.
Carey last December was declared the winner over James P. Hoffa in a bitterly contested election shadowed by the specter of the challenger's father, former Teamsters President James R. Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975.
A federal overseer has yet to decide if the vote underwritten with $22 million in federal funds will stand.
The FBI has already charged consultant Martin Davis with using his position as a vendor to both the union and Carey's campaign to exploit the Teamsters' general treasury and hide illegal donations to Carey's coffers.
The Teamsters and Carey's campaign officials have said they are cooperating fully with the investigation, and Hamilton had appeared several times before the grand jury.
But Hamilton complained in his letter that documents he willingly gave investigators have wound up in the hands of Hoffa aides "who then spin them to the press while those of us who tried to assist in sorting out the questions raised by this investigation are unable to respond."
Hamilton said after several encounters with New York U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White "and her retinue," he concluded "there is no merit to further cooperation by me with the investigation."
"It is a circus, and I no longer willingly will participate," he said.
As director of government affairs, Hamilton worked Capitol Hill to push legislation important to labor, and he doled out donations from the Teamsters' political action committee.
Referring to his political work for the union and his work on behalf of Carey, Hamilton wrote, "In neither effort did I knowingly do anything wrong." In at least three instances, Davis is accused of having vendors overbill the Teamsters' political department for work and then using the excess funds to benefit Carey's re-election campaign.
Hamilton's resignation came shortly after the grand jury turned its attention to the close relationship between the Teamsters and the Democratic Party, subpoenaing both organizations for information about their ties.
The subpoenas followed reports of a 1996 letter from the DNC to Davis, requesting nearly $1 million in specific donations from the Teamsters to state party treasuries. A separate note from Davis to Hamilton linked the donations to unspecified commitments by the DNC.
The union and the DNC said the alleged scheme was wishful thinking on