March 30, 2011: Judge Kenneth Conboy held a third hearing on March 24 to consider the appropriate punishment for a scheme in which James Hoffa and three International vice presidents were caught using union funds to try to buy-off political rivals.
The hearing was the result of appeals filed by TDU co-chair Frank Halstead and by Fred Gegare that the Election Supervisor’s remedy was inadequate given the seriousness of the violations.
Hoffa Offered Extra Salaries, Pensions
Election Supervisor Richard Mark in late 2010 conducted a six-month investigation in this matter.
It found that Hoffa and International Vice Presidents Ken Hall, Rome Aloise and Tyson Johnson offered no-show jobs, and in one case an extra pension, to try to patch up a split in the Hoffa camp. The split led to the formation of a slate headed by Fred Gegare.
According to Mark, the investigation revealed “a culture, or mind-set where elected union officials do not clearly distinguish between their fiduciary responsibility to the union and their separate political objective of getting elected.”
Judge Conboy has twice ruled that the Election Supervisor took insufficient action in response to the Hoffa bribery scandal.
After the first hearing, Judge Conboy ordered the Election Supervisor to conduct a complete investigation. The Election Supervisor conducted the investigation but ruled that no remedy was called for because the bribes had been turned down.
Conboy reversed the Election Supervisor on appeal and ordered him to devise a remedy.
Weak Remedy Appealed
In response, the Election Supervisor ordered that a notice informing members of Hoffa’s violations appear in the April issue of the Teamster magazine and on the Teamster website and that the notice be posted inside local union halls.
Halstead and Gegare are appealing the remedy as inadequate.
Hoffa’s campaign attorney, his son David Hoffa, submitted a brief applauding the Election Supervisor’s remedy, while still claiming his dad’s innocence.
“When the guilty party is happy with the judge’s sentence, that’s a sign that the sentence is too light,” Halstead said.
TDU attorney Barbara Harvey, representing Halstead, has submitted briefs outlining why this remedy is inadequate to deal with such a serious violation.
Harvey argued that a candidate debate, with DVD distribution to all members, would force Hoffa to answer directly to the members for the scheme and to explain what action his administration would take to insure that members’ dues are never again used to try to buy political support for an incumbent General President.
Judge Conboy, who serves as the Election Appeals Master, rarely overturns the remedies chosen by the Election Supervisor.
You can find updated information on this issue at www.TDU.org as well as a link to the Election Supervisor’s 30-page report on the attempted bribery scheme.