Sunday, February 27, 2011


Two Teamsters presidents, the late Ron Carey and James P. Hoffa, have both been accused of using the union’s dues money to enhance their chances for reelection.
Each contended they were innocent. The difference in their cases is that after an extraordinary investigation that lasted five years, Carey was cleared by a federal jury of charges that he lied in denying he knew about the scheme to swap $885,000 of Teamsters dues money in exchange for contributions to his reelection campaign. Hoffa has yet to be exonerated.
Through the years, Carey’s cries of innocence went unheard as he was barred from running for reelection and then summarily dismissed from Teamsters membership by the union’s Independent Review Board.
Anyone who attended Carey’s trial in the fall of 2001 would say he was proven innocent rather than found not guilty. His defense team including the late Mark Hulkower, Reid Weingarten, Bruce Bishop and Bob Hauptman absolutely destroyed the government’s case in the process of proving it was based on the lies of a witness providing false testimony to avoid a prison sentence.
Now Hoffa is facing the prospect of experiencing what the late Teamsters President Jackie Presser called the hot seat of the union’s presidency.
Hoffa and members of his current slate are accused of offering lucrative jobs and at least one extra pension to three Teamsters officials, IBT Car Haul Director Fred Zuckerman and International Trustees Henry Perry and Frank Gallegos, in exchange for their support or not running in the 2011 Teamsters International Election. The payoffs, apparently to last for one year, would have cost the IBT treasury at least a quarter of a million dollars—and that doesn’t include the value of the extra pension offered to Zuckerman.
The three, who are to be commended, declined the offers—for whatever reasons: perhaps integrity or perhaps they just couldn’t endure the way Hoffa was running the union. Zuckerman and Perry currently are vice presidential candidates opposing the Hoffa slate in the upcoming IBT election.
IBT Election Supervisor Richard W. Mark uncovered the attempted misuse of Teamsters’ dues money during a six-month-long investigation ordered by Kenneth Conboy, the Teamsters Election Appeals Master. In a strange decision, Mark said there was nothing he could do about the unsuccessful scheme because Zuckerman, Gallegos and Perry refused to go along—and didn’t collect any money.
Expressing his dismay over Mark’s failure to punish Hoffa and company, Perry told the Memphis Commercial Appeal: “It was like, you go in the bank, you pull the gun, you hear the police coming, you run out. You didn't commit a crime.”
Conboy, in effect agreed with Perry’s assessment by ordering Mark to go back to the drawing board to impose a penalty but one short of disqualifying Hoffa as a candidate.
In issuing that directive to Mark, Conboy maligned the memory of Ron Carey by saying “In that case, Ron Carey, the IBT president elect in 1996 knew of a scheme to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars of union funds for the benefit of his campaign.” Conboy either is unaware of the exoneration of Carey by the Manhattan federal court—or isn’t willing to acknowledge that the subsequent evidence emerged to show that Carey should never have been disqualified.
In the same vein in light of the outcome of his trial, I have never understood why Carey was not reinstated as a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Mark now has the burden of figuring out what his solution should be for Hoffa and company’s failed attempt to use the members’ money in their reelection campaign.
Hoffa must also be wondering whether the Teamsters Independent Review Board will investigate the case and wallop him with a penalty that could end his bid for the union presidency.
Fred Gegare, who filed the original complaint that ultimately resulted in Mark’s investigation and is running against Hoffa for the presidency, contends that just like Carey, Hoffa should be disqualified from running again and expelled from Teamsters.
Sandy Pope, the New York Teamster running for the presidency, said in one on her releases, “It’s an open secret that Hoffa uses our dues money to reward his supporters—and to funnel them extra salaries in exchange for campaign contributions. But this is the first time the problem has been officially documented.”

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Friday, February 11, 2011

MARK HULKOWER remembered

Mark Hulkower, the brilliant litigator who played a crucial role in saving the late Teamsters president Ron Carey from prison and lasting disgrace, died of cancer last Saturday at the age of 53.
Carey had been put through five years of hell--dumped from the presidency of the Teamsters and pilloried in the press for supposedly participating in a rip off of union funds—before he finally went to trial in Manhattan federal court in the fall of 2001.
Hulkower was part of a potent defense team that included two other lawyers from the Washington, DC firm of Steptoe & Johnson: Reid Weingarten and Bruce Bishop with Bob Hauptman, Carey’s former Special Assistant for Management and Budget, serving as the researcher, analyst of the documents used in evidence, and a source of insight into the operations of the complex union.
Hulkower and Weingarten subjected the prosecution’s key witness to devastating cross-examinations which revealed the government’s case was a lie.
Among the many successful assaults on that witness was one in Hulkower asked with almost boyish innocence: “Would you steal money from the (Carey) campaign?” The witness responded, “No sir.” Then Hulkower produced piles of invoices showing that this crucial government witness was indeed a thief who stole from the campaign.
After the jury returned the verdict exonerating Carey, Hulkower made the pithy observation that the case was “a Greek tragedy with a happy ending.”