By Kevin Galvin
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, June 25, 1998; 6:35 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A court-appointed monitor
said Thursday he will end federal supervision of the Teamsters
election unless the court can resolve a standoff over election's
The letter to U.S. District Judge David Edelstein
from election officer Michael Cherkasky put pressure on congressional
Republicans. Some GOP members have opposed spending taxpayer money
on the contest, although a federal appeals court has ruled the
government was bound to pay under the terms of a consent decree
the union signed in 1989 to avoid racketeering charges.
Direct elections of union officers are key
to the government's cleanup plan, which was designed to pry loose
organized crime's grip on the union.
Cherkasky suggested that if funding were
not immediately forthcoming, the union should still be forced
to hold a rerun election, and that Edelstein could ask the union
or the government to pay and then seek repayment later.
But he left open the possibility that the
election would be held without supervision.
"It would be astounding, and a stunning
waste of decades of effort spent fighting organized crime and
labor racketeering, if the current paralysis over funding resulted
in the abandonment of this law enforcement effort and left the
rerun election in limbo," Cherkasky wrote.
"Despite professed support from the
government and the IBT for election officer supervision, I need
more than good intentions in order to go forward."
Incumbent Ron Carey's narrow 1996 re-election
over James P. Hoffa was set aside by a previous election officer
after investigators uncovered an illegal fund-raising scheme that
used more than $800,000 in union funds to boost Carey's campaign.
Carey was banned from the rerun, his campaign manager and two
consultants pleaded guilty in federal court, and the union's political
director was indicted.
Under the consent decree the government could supervise the 1996 race if it paid for it. That race cost about $20 million in public funds.
Congressional Republicans, led by Rep. Pete
Hoekstra of Michigan, have opposed underwriting the estimated
$8.6 million rerun. But after they rejected a plan to split the
cost with the union, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals
ruled that if the government expected to supervise the contest,
"the government must bear the costs."
The union issued a statement saying it ``expects
the government to comply with the appeals court's ruling and to
proceed with the election as scheduled under federal supervision.''
Hoekstra said that lawmakers have been reluctant
to provide further funding because they aren't convinced that
adequate safeguards are in place to prevent another corrupted
Nevertheless, he predicted that a solution
would be found "sooner rather than later." "We're
going to work this out," he said.
Cherkasky said he had about $750,000 left,
enough to continue basic operations for about 14 weeks but not
enough to begin contracting auditors, vote tabulators and other
vendors. He asked Edelstein to have a payment agreement in place
by June 30.
Hoffa's campaign manager, Tom Pazzi, said,
"We hope that Mr. Cherkasky is successful in his attempts
to secure funding for the election."
"If funding isn't forthcoming soon,
we won't be silent," he said.
Steve Trossman, spokesman for Hoffa's main
challenger, Tom Leedham, said, ``This is the mess that's been
created by Congressman Hoekstra, who is acting contrary to the
interest of rank-and-file Teamsters.''
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press