|The Ron Carey Campaign
Election Officer Revisiting Disqualification of Carey
By Kevin Galvin
WASHINGTON (AP) Citing fresh evidence and access to new witnesses, a federal officer said Thursday she would review whether Teamsters President Ron Carey should be disqualified from a rerun of the union's 1996 election.
The announcement from Barbara Zack Quindel came just after Carey supporters had held a rally to kick off his new campaign against challenger James P. Hoffa.
Hoffa, who has repeatedly called for Carey to step down, said he was gratified by Quindel's letter "in light of the fact that the Carey campaign looted hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the treasury."
Carey's campaign said the new election, "should be run as soon as possible. ...Perpetual delay and ponderous flyspecking is simply unacceptable to the Carey campaign and the Teamsters members."
Meanwhile, investigators have learned that a controversial fund-raising memo from the Democratic Party to the Teamsters union was actually written by an official working for President Clinton's re-election campaign last year.
The Senate investigation into campaign finance and a federal grand jury in New York are examining that memo, which requested more than $1 million in specific union contributions to state and local Democratic affiliates.
Last month, Quindel threw out Carey's December 1996 election because of fund-raising improprieties, citing "a complex network of schemes" to funnel prohibited union and employer funds to his campaign.
But she said Carey had testified under oath that he was unaware of his advisers' scheming and she found no reason to disqualify him from the new race.
In a new letter, to the official who hears appeals regarding union business under a 1988 consent decree the Teamsters signed with the Justice Department, Quindel asked that an appeal hearing be delayed.
"Since issuing the decision, certain information has been presented to me by a party to the appeal," Quindel wrote. In addition, she said the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York had informed her that she would be allowed to interview "certain relevant witnesses" she had yet to speak with.
One new submission from Hoffa's attorneys that was obtained by The Associated Press included memos and notes kept by Coleen Dougher, a former Democratic National Committee employee who worked as Carey's scheduler.
Memos from Dougher to a union attorney show that she was unwilling to discuss the purchase of hats and T-shirts for Teamsters political rallies last year until she had obtained private legal counsel.
The notes refer to a meeting between Dougher, former Carey campaign manager Jere Nash, and others in Carey's office to discuss the rallies. In a separate notation, Dougher states "I raised money for Carey $150,000."
Dougher's attorney, Jeff Poston, declined to address the details of the memos, but said they were "stolen and private documents."
"Everything that Ms. Dougher did in her (union) capacity was legal and was approved and authorized by appropriate Teamsters officials," Poston said.
Quindel had said that a criminal investigation of Carey's campaign had prevented her from speaking with some of the principles in the alleged scheme.
One person she had yet to interview is the man alleged to have been at the center: Washington political consultant Martin Davis.
At the time Quindel was faxing her letter on Thursday, Carey was kicking off his re-election campaign outside a United Parcel Service facility in New York."Carey again!" shouted 200 union members arriving before the 8 a.m. shift.
Carey denied any wrongdoing in the earlier campaign. "We have cooperated with every agency that's investigating, and those who are involved deserve to be punished," he said.
Under a 1988 consent decree that the union signed with the Justice Department, the federal government allocated $21.2 million to underwrite the Teamsters election last year. Direct elections of the union's top officers are key to the government's plan to root out corruption.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate voted 58-42 on Thursday to deny the use of federal funds to oversee the Teamster rerun election.
The sponsor to the amendment to a spending bill, Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla.,said "we shouldn't have taxpayers get ripped off again."
The FBI has charged Davis with using his contracts with both the union andCarey's campaign to skim money from the Teamsters' general treasury and send the cash to Carey's coffers.
With other Carey supporters, Davis also is alleged to have orchestrated a scheme whereby donations made to Carey resulted in union funds being contributed to nonprofit political organizations on behalf of the donors. Meanwhile, a federal grand jury in New York that began examining the Carey campaign has expanded its probe to review the union's ties to Democrats.
And Senate investigators have learned more about the fund-raising memo from the Democratic Party to the Teamsters.
The memo was sent under the name of Richard Sullivan, who was the Democratic National Committee's finance director last year, to Davis, a political consultant working for both the Teamsters and for Carey.
According to several people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Sullivan told investigators it was actually written by Laura Hartigan, who was deputy to President Clinton's campaign finance director, Terence McAuliffe.