- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Former Teamster political director William Hamilton, who was convicted in November of six felony counts for his role in the Teamster corruption scandal, seems determined to take the fall by himself. It's not hard to understand why he would want to protect others in the widespread money-laundering scheme, which, according to the evidence, involved the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign. But why should a federal judge encourage him to do so?

Hamilton could have received five years in prison for each of the six felonies he committed. Federal sentencing guidelines recommended a prison sentence of 46 months to 57 months. Federal District Court Judge Thomas Griesa, however, sentenced the uncooperative Hamilton to only three years. Rather than encourage Hamilton to cooperate in the investigation of former Teamster President Ron Carey, who was kicked out of the Teamsters in connection with the embezzlement and fraud that both made his re-election possible and led to Hamilton's conviction, Judge Griesa inexplicably handed down a sweetheart sentence to Hamilton, thus rewarding him for his continued obstinacy. By way of contrast, federal prosecutors in another union corruption case involving embezzlement have agreed to seek a reduced term for Fred Summers, a former leader in the Iron Workers union. In this case, however, any leniency would be strictly conditional upon Summers' cooperation in an investigation of other union officials. Moreover, three lower-level participants in the Teamster case, who pleaded guilty to multiple felonies several years ago, have had their sentencing delayed pending the results of their active cooperation.

Pleading for the mercy of the court, Hamilton acknowledged that he was "deeply ashamed and angry" at himself for what he said had been a "degrading and humiliating" experience. In a statement, Hamilton rationalized his felonious actions, saying, "We didn't want to see the union go back to the days of corruption."

How's that again? Hamilton looted the Teamsters' general treasury of nearly $1 million and funneled it to several liberal activist groups whose benefactors then poured money into Mr. Carey's campaign against Mr. Hoffa. Hamilton subverted union democracy and embezzled the money of hard-working, dues-paying truck drivers, warehouse workers and other Teamster members. And now he says he did so because "we didn't want to see the union go back to the days of corruption"? By the way, who is "we" in this case?

Except for these transgressions massive embezzlement and fraud and subversion of union democracy, to say nothing of his role in the bankrupting of what was once the nation's most powerful union Judge Griesa noted that Hamilton "has indeed led an exemplary life." One wonders if Judge Griesa had in mind Hamilton's letter to The Washington Post while he was a Planned Parenthood official in which he mocked Mother Teresa for her opposition to abortion. In any event, emphasizing Hamilton's past as a committed liberal activist while downplaying the severity of the consequences of the willful violation of his fiduciary duties and his key role in yet another major union corruption scandal is akin to saying that, except for spying for the Soviet Union, the Rosenbergs were otherwise great people.

Hamilton did the crimes. And he should have been required to do the time established by the sentencing guidelines. No doubt the White House and the DNC, whose own Teamster-related money-laundering schemes may now be more difficult to unravel absent Hamilton's cooperation, are deeply grateful.

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