Alex Constantine - January 2, 2009
Blago Pick Tied To Unions And Mafia?
From a five year old “Union Corruption Update” by the National Legal and Policy Center:
Mob-Infested Chicago Local Suggests Ex-AG as Temporary Supervisor
February 3, 2003
Reeling from the expulsion of three organized crime members from its hierarchy, the new president of a Chicago Laborers union has asked that a frmr. state attny. general be appointed to oversee the union. But with Roland Burris having been a character witness for a Teamster expelled from office for associating with organized crime, it remains an open question whether Burris will be approved.
Last January, the "in-house judge" of the Laborers’ Intl. Union of N. Amer. permanently barred three relatives from holding office in Local 1001. Based on the testimony of law enforcement officials, frmr. mob associates, and informants under witness protection, Peter F. Vaira concluded that Bruno Caruso, his brother, Frank "Toots", and their first cousin, Leo, had been associates of the mafia, known in Chicago as the "Outfit," for more than 40 years.
LIUNA officials in Wash. D.C. are still accusing Local 1001 of corruption and other connections to the "Outfit" — a charge that, according to a news release, Local 1001 officials "stridently refute." But on Jan. 17, Local bosses met with an unnamed "national union official" and "agreed to enter into a voluntary supervision agreement if Burris is appointed to that role."
This is not Burris’s first involvement with allegedly corrupt unions. While serving as attny. gen. in 1994, Burris was a character witness for Robert T. Simpson Jr., frmr. pres. of Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters (IBT) Local 743. In spite of that testimony, the fed. Independent Rev. Bd. (IRB) ruled that Simpson had allowed Donald Peters to continue his influence of the Chicago local after Peters had agreed to have nothing to do with the union. Peters was named as a defendant in the 1988 fed. racketeering lawsuit against the IBT.
Peters agreed to resign from all offices held in the IBT. But the IRB, created to oversee the entire union as part of the settlement of the lawsuit, ruled in ‘94 that Peters — with Simpson’s help — maintained an office at Local 743, attended Local meetings, and was paid by the Local for consulting and traveling expenses. In 1996, Fed. Judge David N. Edelstein (U.S.D.C. S.D.NY, Truman), upheld the IRB’s decision against Simpson’s appeal.
Apart from Burris’s willingness to testify to the "character" of a corrupt Teamster boss, LIUNA’s "in-house prosecutor," Robert Luskin, questioned whether Burris had enough background in unions to to know where to look for evidence of corruption, such as embezzled pensions, or kickback deals with contractors. Luskin also said "many more [Local 1001 members] will be disciplined," based on evidence already gathered.
[Local 1001 News Release, 1/18/03: Chicago Tribune, 1/18/03: U.S. v. IBT 931 F. Supp. 1074; 1996 U.S. Dist.]
Shocking, is it not?
Of course this will only give the Senate Democrats another obstacle to not seating him.
(Thanks to CGardner for the heads up.)