Teamsters agree to pay half the $7.4 million for rerun election
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Teamsters have agreed to pay at least half the estimated $7.4 million cost for a rerun of the union’s federally supervised election, a union spokesman confirmed Tuesday.
Negotiations with the Justice Department over exactly which costs will fall to the Teamsters are continuing, but spokesman Matt Witt said the union will pay at least $3.7 million.
The federal government picked up the nearly $20 million tab for last year’s contest between Teamsters President Ron Carey and challenger James P. Hoffa. But Carey’s slim win was thrown out and a new race ordered Aug. 22.
Carey’s campaign manager and two consultants pleaded guilty to a conspiracy that funneled union treasury money into Carey’s campaign. Another court officer is determining whether Carey should be eligible for the rerun.
The federal government paid to conduct the election under the terms of a 1989 consent decree that the Teamsters signed with the Justice Department. To avoid a racketeering suit, the Teamsters agreed to hold rank-and-file elections and fight organized crime’s influence within the union.
The union paid for the first union-wide vote in 1991, and had expected the government to pay for the total cost of the second contest, including the rerun. But Congressional Republicans sought to block the Justice Department from spending any more on the process.
``The Bush administration agreed to pay the costs to ensure a fair election and an end to mob control of the union,″ Witt said. ``To ensure a fair election, we’re going to pay costs that the government had promised to pay.″
In a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Fois said that with the Teamsters’ payment the Justice Department may not need more funds to supervise the race.
The other half of the cost, Fois said, could be covered by about $1.9 million left over from the election overseer’s fiscal 1997 budget and another $1.9 million in funds that went unspent from last year’s Justice budget.
As much as $1 million in additional funds could be available from fines levied against the three defendants who pleaded guilty, and Congress would still have to approve the transfer of the funds left over from last year.
``We believe that the law enforcement goal of having the election supervised could be assured even if the Department of Justice relied entirely on fiscal 1997 funds, which remain unspent, to pay for the actual costs of supervision,″ Fois wrote.