The Ron Carey Campaign
Judge Orders 45-Day Delay in Balloting by Teamsters
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
NEW YORK -- A federal judge Friday ordered a 45-day delay in this winter's Teamsters' election to give investigators more time to look into accusations that the leading candidate, James P. Hoffa, son of the legendary union leader, received improper campaign contributions in the previous election.
Just four days after Ron Carey, the Teamsters' president, was barred from running for re-election, Judge David N. Edelstein of U.S. District Court in Manhattan ordered the delay, a move bitterly protested by Hoffa.
Richard Leebove, Hoffa's spokesman, said the postponement was part of a federal effort to allow the Carey forces to regroup behind another candidate and to prevent Hoffa from being elected president of the 1.4-million member union.
"It indicates what we said before, that the government has chosen sides and will do whatever it can to block Hoffa, who is right now the choice of the Teamster members," Leebove said.
He expressed fears that federal investigators would find campaign finance violations and bar Hoffa from running for president.
Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said, "Any accusation of bias is absurd."
Edelstein oversees the 1989 consent decree in which the Teamsters agreed to government supervision. He postponed the election after Benetta Mansfield, a court-appointed monitor, asked for the delay on Thursday to gain more time to look into accusations by the Carey camp about $1.8 million in donations to Hoffa. Hoffa never disclosed the source of that money in last year's election, saying they all came in sums of under $100 and thus did not have to be reported.
The Carey camp asked for an investigation of the $1.8 million, saying some came from improper sources, like employers, and adding that it was not believable that all the money came in sums of under $100.
Hoffa asserted this week that there was nothing wrong with his finances.
Carey's supporters welcomed Edelstein's delay of the election, for which ballots were to be mailed out on Feb. 16, with the counting to begin on March 17.
On Monday, an election overseer appointed by Edelstein disqualified Carey from running for re-election after concluding that he knew about and approved schemes that used almost $1 million from the union's treasury to help his campaign. In August, Carey's victory in last year's election was overturned, when another election monitor found improper fund-raising.
Carey, who asserts he is innocent, has appealed the disqualification ruling to Edelstein.
Hoffa's position might be weakened by grand jury investigations of several prominent supporters. Investigators said federal grand juries in Boston and Detroit were investigating Teamsters' Local 710 in Chicago and Local 337 in Detroit, which is run by Lawrence Brennan, who made Hoffa eligible to run for president by hiring him as his executive assistant.
The Boston grand jury is investigating how Shawmut National Corp., now part of the Fleet Financial Group, handled the $1 billion pension fund of Local 710, which is run by Frank Wsol, a major Hoffa supporter. The grand jury is also looking into $1 million in commissions, related to Shawmut's work, paid to a Detroit stockbroker who is a member of Local 337 and who owns an investment firm that has a contract with the local covering one person, the stockbroker.
The Detroit grand jury, investigators said, is looking into large unexplained bonuses received by officials in Brennan's local.
Leebove said, "These investigations do not involve Jim Hoffa, nor is there any evidence that they involve the Hoffa campaign."
The Carey forces might also be hurt by a new investigation. Senate and federal investigators said they began looking this week into accusations by Hoffa supporters that Gail Zappa, a major contributor to the Democratic Party and the widow of the musician Frank Zappa, donated to Teamsters for a Democratic Union. Investigators are examining whether Democratic Party officials asked Mrs. Zappa to give to the Teamsters' group in exchange for donations that the Teamsters made to the party.
Ms. Zappa said she did not believe that she ever donated to Teamsters for a Democratic Union. Ken Paff, the group's national coordinator, said he did not remember receiving money from her, adding that the group did not accept contributions from non-Teamsters.