Change the Teamsters can believe in, part 2

The Teamsters union has had a long and storied relationship with the Mafia. To take just one vivid example, consider the case of Anthony Senter. Senter was the Mafia hit man who arranged a deal with a Teamsters local for a pension after he was convicted of being a member of a mob hit squad in New York City that committed 25 murders and dismembered most of the victims.

Senter’s attempt to secure a pension from his friends at the Teamsters was disrupted in 1994 by the Independent Review Board. The IRB is the body created by a 1989 consent decree to monitor the Teamsters for corruption. Since 1999 the Teamsters has sought to have the consent decree dissolved. The Department of Justice has not thought that such a good idea. The Teamsters would like new leadership at the Department of Justice with a better attitude.

In 1989 the Teamsters entered into the consent decree with the government. The decree was entered into before, and signed by, Judge David Edelstein of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The consent decree resolved the government’s prosecution of the Teamsters for racketeering.

Certain provisions of the decree were enforced by a permanent injunction. The injunction ordered the Teamsters to refrain from racketeering activity (as defined under federal law) and from knowingly associating with the Mafia. The consent decree also provided for the creation of the three-member IRB in 1992. The jurisdiction of the IRB is limited to the prevention of corruption, including bribery, embezzlement, extortion, loan sharking, and other serious violations of federal law, or control and influence of the Teamsters by the Mafia.

Today’s page-one Wall Street Journal story shines a spotlight on the Teamsters’ endorsement of Barack Obama. According to the Journal, Obama advised the Teamsters prior to its endorsement of him that he supported dissolving the permanent injunction to which the Teamsters agreed in 1989 and under which it has been operating ever since. Dissolution of the consent decree would require judicial blessing, but if the government were to seek dissolution of the decree, it would be highly likely to secure it.

Taking a leaf from the Clinton scandal management playbook, the Obama campaign dismisses the Journal story as old news. Even it it is old news, the Journal story provides the detail and attention that the story richly deserves.

In 2002, the left-wing Nation magazine frankly condemned Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa’s goal of eliminating federal oversight of the Teamsers as “a bad idea.” It still is. Are the corruption and exploitation of the Teamsters no longer a serious threat? Someone really should ask Barack Obama why not.

The Nation article notes that in May 2002 the IRB permanently barred from the union two of Hoffa’s closest associates (William Hogan Jr., president of Chicago’s Joint Council 25, and Dane Passo, Hoffa’s former Midwest campaign manager and special assistant). According to the article, they were disciplined for trying over an extended period of time to force the Las Vegas local to permit a mob-linked labor broker (of which Hogan’s brother was vice president) to provide low-wage, nonunion workers for convention setup work, thus threatening to undermine the Teamsters contract and displace union members.

Some Democrats recently sought the impeachment of an attorney general for politicizing justice by the firing of eight United States Attorneys. Many Democrats joined in driving the attorney general from office on the charge. I believe the charge was bogus in the case of Alberto Gonzales. But Democrats are now about to nominate a presidential candidate who is engaged in something that looks very much like the genuine article.

JOHN adds: Barack Obama, old-fashioned corrupt pol! Well, of course, a lot of those corrupt Democratic pols got elected.

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