Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA) wonders if disqualified Teamsters President Ron Carey and President Bill Clinton are being judged by different standards with regard to campaign violations. "If the principle that broadly and intentionally violating campaign rules disqualifies a union official from serving," Barr notes, "the same principle should be applied to elected and appointed officials in our federal government who broadly and intentionally violate our laws."
On November 17th, federal campaign overseer Kenneth Conboy disqualified Carey from running again due to "extraordinarily serious misconduct" that resulted in the government overturning his December reelection. Investigators discovered Carey's campaign looted the union treasury by trading union donations for direct campaign contributions. A Carey campaign aide said he enlisted the support of the Clinton reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the scheme. A $100,000 foreign contribution set up by the DNC was ultimately rejected, but the union did reciprocate by making large pro-Democrat expenditures.
Barr said, "If the violations by top officials of the President's campaign and the DNC are ignored at the same time Ron Carey is disqualified from running for office, it will send a very clear signal that abuse of power and violation of our laws will be tolerated, as long as the parties involved have close ties to the White House. Such a message would have tragic consequences for our system of government."
In the Washington Post, former Common Cause President Fred Wertheimer also charged that Clinton broke his "legally binding commitment to the American people" by knowingly using "soft money" contributions to finance his reelection efforts in a manner violating agreed upon campaign spending limits.
Organizers of California's "Campaign Reform Initiative" (CRI) filed over 740,000 signatures - 300,000 more than needed - to qualify it for the June, 1998 ballot. Confirmation is expected by January 22nd.
The CRI would ban foreign contributions to state and local campaigns, and require employers and labor unions to receive annual written approval from employees before using mandatory payroll deductions for state and local political activity. CRI co-author Mark Bucher said, "No Californian should be forced to contribute money to any political cause. The CRI will give hard-working Californians new protections against those who would confiscate workers' income to pay for politics."
Organized labor has already pledged to vigorously oppose the CRI. California affiliates of the National Education Association and AFL-CIO are preparing a campaign expected to cost between $20 million and $25 million. They are also threatening to push initiatives restricting corporate political activity and end business tax breaks in an effort to keep the business community from supporting the CRI. This tactic, however, may backfire. Kirk West of the California Chamber of Commerce told the Washington Post, "Unions attack business when we didn't pick the fight - that will only serve to increase the interest of the business community in the Bucher initiative."
Bucher explained to Political Money Monitor that organized labor's campaign proves the need for the CRI's protections, saying, "I'm sure these unions will not be asking for permission from their members before they commit themselves to spending this much money on a political campaign."
Teamsters Cash Helps Legalize Marijuana
Last year's campaign to legalize marijuana use in California received as much as $195,000 from the Teamsters as a result of illegal campaign contribution swaps tied to Ron Carey's re-election. Donors gave money to the Carey campaign in return for the union making equal or greater contributions (taken from mandatory member dues) to political and social causes.
Group That Prospered By Teamsters Largess Now Too Poor to Afford DC Office
Citizen Action, which spent $7 million last year to defeat Republican congressional candidates, is shutting down it's Washington office because links to the Teamsters scandal has dried up the group's fundraising. It received $475,000 from the union last year, much of it from the money-laundering scheme designed to help reelect union president Ron Carey. Citizen Action Director Hetty Rosenstein said the resulting negative publicity has left the group "unable to raise enough money to maintain our national staff."
Right to Life Takes on Senator John McCain
The National Right to Life Committee, concerned that the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform bill will restrict it's ability to conduct "issues advocacy," is planning to run ads in Senator John McCain's (R) home state of Arizona as well as New Hampshire and Iowa -- the sites of the first presidential contests.
Political Money Monitor is published by The National Center for Public Policy Research to provide information on campaign finance and political choice issues. Coverage of an event or article in Political Money Monitor does not imply endorsement by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Copyright 1997 The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints of articles in Political Money Monitor are permitted provided source is credited. ###
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