|The Ron Carey Campaign
Sweeney Backs Treasurer Trumka
Friday, November 21, 1997;
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Responding to questions about his No. 2 officer's refusal to testify in the Teamsters case, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said Friday there were no grounds for dismissing Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka.
Sweeney sent a letter to the leaders of the federation's affiliated unions clarifying the federation's policy on officers who invoke their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in the face of corruption charges. He also reassured them he had seen no evidence of wrongdoing at the AFL-CIO.
"The AFL-CIO, as you know, has for some time been conducting its own internal inquiry, and has no basis to conclude that there was any unlawful conduct by Secretary-Treasurer Trumka,'' Sweeney wrote. "Furthermore, he has explicitly denied all wrongdoing.''
Publicly, Trumka has declined to comment on accusations first raised by federal prosecutors in New York that he helped to funnel $150,000 in Teamsters treasury money through the federation to help union president Ron Carey's re-election campaign.
In a decision barring Carey from a rerun election, former federal judge Kenneth Conboy reported that Trumka had invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify. He also alleged that Trumka sought to funnel $50,000 in cash to Carey's campaign.
Trumka continues to be a subject of a federal grand jury inquiry into the Carey campaign. His attorney expressed confidence that Trumka would be exonerated.
Sweeney's letter was in response to questions about a 1957 AFL-CIO policy calling for the expulsion of union leaders who refuse to cooperate with legitimate inquiries into corruption.
In January 1957, the federation did adopt such a policy, but in December of the same year it adopted a resolution stating that expulsion should not be automatic. Rather it should occur only after it was found that the Fifth Amendment was invoked to cover up proven wrongdoing.
Officials from various unions have complained privately that the allegations against Trumka were detracting from the work of a resurgent labor movement.
Sweeney made a veiled referenced to such complaints, saying that while reporters had queried the federation about Trumka and the policy "on the basis of conversations they'd had with others," federation officers "did not receive word of any such interpretations or concerns directly.''
© Copyright 1997 The Associated Press