- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2000

With less than six weeks to go before the U.S. presidential election, the chances that Attorney General Janet Reno's Justice Department will decide whether to indict AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka before Nov. 7 are becoming slimmer and slimmer. Mr. Trumka, as well as several other union bosses, including Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, who runs the AFL-CIO's $40 million electoral operations, has been implicated in the 4-year-old Teamsters' corruption scandal, which has already resulted in the convictions of four persons on multiple felony counts.

Vice President Al Gore has to be a very happy guy. After all, it was Mr. Trumka who played an indispensable role last October in securing the AFL-CIO's incalculably valuable endorsement of Mr. Gore for the Democratic primaries. And it was Mr. Trumka who delivered for Mr. Gore the union movement's seal of approval in a speech at the Democratic National Convention. An indictment of the AFL-CIO's second-ranking official would have generated countless stories reminding voters just how rotten the Democratic Party's fund-raising schemes were during the 1996 election and how pervasive campaign-related corruption was throughout the union movement.

If a decision involving Mr. Trumka isn't forthcoming before this year's election, both the American public and Mr. Trumka, who has been citing his Fifth Amendment privileges against self-incrimination in refusing to testify before a congressional committee and government investigators, will be ill-served. Indeed, it is fair to ask: What could be taking so long? After all, it has now been more than three years since federal prosecutors in New York obtained guilty pleas for multiple felonies committed by three top officials in the corruption-plagued 1996 re-election campaign of then-Teamster president Ron Carey, who was later removed from office and booted out of the union. Last November, a federal jury returned six guilty verdicts against William Hamilton, the Teamsters' former political director during Mr. Carey's reign of corruption. Among other things, Hamilton was found guilty of embezzlement, fraud and perjury for his role in the diversion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Teamsters' general treasury to Mr. Carey's campaign. Mr. Carey, a close associate of former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Harold Ickes, who oversaw the fund-raising efforts of the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign, has not been indicted either.

Nearly three years ago, a former federal judge, acting in his capacity as the judicially appointed Teamsters' election monitor, issued a blistering 72-page report that outlined the scandal which enveloped the Teamsters during Mr. Carey's re-election bid. That report led to Hamilton's subsequent indictment. Both the election monitor and prosecutors during Hamilton's trial explicitly detailed two roles that Mr. Trumka allegedly played in the Teamsters' widespread money-laundering and embezzlement conspiracies.

In one case, Mr. Trumka allegedly raised $50,000 in improper contributions for the Carey campaign, whose operatives admitted laundering the funds through various Teamsters eligible to contribute. In the second case, Mr. Trumka was implicated in a money-laundering scheme that diverted $150,000 from the Teamsters' general treasury to the AFL-CIO. From there, Mr. Trumka sent the funds to a left-wing advocacy group, which then diverted $100,000 to Carey campaign operatives to finance a last-minute direct mailing.

Remember, these details first surfaced nearly three years ago. And Hamilton was convicted last November. What could possibly be taking Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was appointed by the Clinton-Gore administration and is supervised by Attorney General Reno, so long to bring this case to a conclusion? Perhaps Mr. Gore should be asked this question during the presidential debate Tuesday night.

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