Reuters Limited

Hoffa Permitted To Seek Teamsters Presidency

Hoffa Fined But Allowed to Run

By David Lawsky

April 27, 1998

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - James P. Hoffa, son of the Teamsters Union's most notorious leader and front-runner in his own bid for the union's top spot, can seek the union presidency, a court-appointed election overseer ruled Monday.

Hoffa, 56, is seeking to fill a five-year term ending in 2002, in a rerun of a race he narrowly lost to Ron Carey two years ago.

Although Hoffa will be permitted to run, his campaign will have to pay thousands of dollars in fines for improprieties in the last campaign and his chief spokesman is barred from participating in this year's effort.

Carey has been barred from running again to head the 1.4 million-member union because his campaign raised funds illegally. He has also been forced to take a leave from the presidency and may be barred from the union.

Carey's allies charged that Hoffa, as well, had engaged in improprieties. But the court-appointed election overseer, Michael Cherkasky, found ``the great majority of the contributions of the Hoffa slate campaigns came from lawful sources.''

``The election officer did not find evidence of large-scale cheating or other improprieties to warrant disqualification of Mr. Hoffa or any member of his slate,'' ruled Cherkasky, after a months-long investigation of the charges against Hoffa.

Hoffa issued a victory statement.

``This investigation found that I am an honest man who ran an honest campaign,'' said Hoffa. ``We expect to win this election.''

Hoffa pledged to end the division in the union -- between the reformers and the traditionalists -- and to restore the ''financial integrity'' of the union.

Hoffa is being opposed by an ally of Carey, Ken Hall, 41, of Charleston, W.Va., a leader in the union's popular strike against United Parcel Service last summer.

``Hoffa represents weakness and division,'' Hall said in a statement after the Cherkasky decision was released. ``I stand for the unity and strength we showed in our victory over UPS.''

Cherkasky found several different problem areas in the Hoffa campaign.

Cherkasky fined the Hoffa campaign $16,767 for accepting $167,675 of in-kind services from Richard Leebove. Leebove served as Hoffa's spokesman. Employers are barred from making contributions to the union, and Leebove is an employer.

Cherkasky ordered Hoffa and his allies to ``refrain from doing campaign-related business with Mr. Leebove, or his firm, RL Communications, Inc., of Detroit, for the duration of the rerun campaign.''

Cherkasky fined Hoffa $5,286 for intentionally concealing a $1,000 contribution from former Teamsters President William McCarthy and ordered a special notice placed in the Teamsters magazine about the contribution.

Cherkasky found that Hoffa failed to report $43,868 in contributions from various sources.

Cherkasky fined the Hoffa campaign, and that of one of those running on his slate, $20,185, for making unreported payments to Kevin Currie by routing them through his wife. Currie is a felon, Cherkasky said, and the fine equals the amount of the falsely reported salary.

Cherkasky said he reviewed 50,000 documents, interviewed 300 people and took sworn statements from 30 people in his investigation.

Cherkasky said in an interview that he hoped the new mail ballot election would begin in August, with counting in early September. Cherkasky said he will propose an exact schedule soon, which is subject to approval by a federal judge overseeing the case.

Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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All original work Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.