By David Lawsky
April 27, 1998
- 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
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
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
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
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.