By Frank Swoboda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 18, 1998
A West Coast fund-raiser who helped collect
money illegally for the 1996 reelection campaign of Teamsters
President Ron Carey yesterday pleaded guilty to making false statements
to federal officials investigating the election.
Charles Blitz, 45, of Santa Barbara, Calif.,
was charged with lying to investigators about his role in a money-laundering
scheme in which he agreed to solicit money for two socially progressive
groups -- Citizen Action and Project Vote -- with the understanding
that a percentage of the money raised would be passed on to the
Carey reelection campaign.
Blitz, the fourth person to plead guilty
in the widening Teamsters election scandal, faces a maximum of
five years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled
for Dec. 2 in New York. Others who have pleaded guilty include
Jere Nash, Carey's campaign manager; Martin Davis, a political
consultant; and Massachusetts telemarketer Michael Ansara.
"Charles Blitz is a progressive philanthropist
who regrets this happened," said Blitz's attorney, Stephen
Ryan. "He was trying to help a cause [Ron Carey's reelection]
that he believed in."
A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary
Jo White said the criminal investigation of the Teamsters election
is continuing. Investigators are looking into the possible involvement
of officials from the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton-Gore
reelection campaign and the AFL-CIO.
Carey narrowly defeated James P. Hoffa in
the 1996 elections. That election was thrown out by federal officials
supervising the election under a 1989 Justice Department consent
decree. Since then Carey has been disqualified from seeking reelection
and thrown out of the union, and Teamsters political director
William Hamilton has been indicted on charges he was involved
in the illegal campaign-finance schemes.
Blitz yesterday pleaded guilty to a single
count of making false statements during a 20-minute telephone
conversation on Feb. 10, 1997, with federal election officials.
During that conversation, the government charged, Blitz made false
statements to try to cover up his involvement in the plan to raise
money for the Carey campaign.
Under the scheme, as outlined in court documents,
Blitz would solicit money from wealthy individuals to contribute
to the Teamsters while the Teamsters would give money to "get-out-the-vote"
efforts supported by these wealthy individuals. For each dollar
solicited by Blitz, the documents said, the Teamsters would make
contributions in a multiplied amount to Citizen Action and Project
In the fall of 1996, the Teamsters gave $475,000
to Citizen Action and $175,000 to Project Vote. Blitz raised $185,000
for a Carey group known as the Teamsters for a Corruption Free
It was unclear yesterday whether Blitz was
cooperating with investigators, but his sentencing has been put
off until December, indicating that any information he provides
may be weighed in deciding his sentence.
According to the court papers, Ansara had
sought out Blitz at a meeting of the Social Venture Network, a
group of wealthy individuals who give to various progressive causes.
Blitz is a past president of the group.
In a related matter yesterday, U.S. District
Judge David Edelstein backed down from an earlier order that the
union's 22-member General Executive Board appear before him tomorrow
to discuss their refusal to pay for any part of the cost of government
supervision of the union's upcoming rerun election. A federal
appeals court has ruled that if the government wants the election
supervised, the government has to pay for it. The general board
has refused government requests to pay for half the estimated
$8 million election cost.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company