AFL-CIO Urged to Oust Trumka

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - A labor watchdog group is calling for the AFL-CIO Executive Council this week to oust Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka for being one of the key figures in the on-going investigation of a Teamster money laundering scandal.

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) Monday sent a nine-page letter to the union's Executive Council making the case for Trumka's removal. In the letter, NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm contended that Trumka has been "deeply implicated" in the scandal by pleading the Fifth Amendment on at least two occasions when questioned about his involvement in the money laundering scandal.

The NLPC letter noted a 1997 case in which Trumka is accused of having wrongfully routed $100,000 and $50,000 in two different schemes to ex-Teamsters President Ron Carey's 1996 election campaign. Trumka has refused to testify by invoking his Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination when questioned by federal prosecutors about the money.

The scandal eventually forced Carey from his post, paving the way for the election of James Hoffa as Teamsters president.

AFL-CIO rules passed in 1957 call for the removal of any union officer who invokes the Fifth Amendment. However, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney allowed Trumka to remain in office, citing Trumka's denial of any wrongdoing and the union's own investigation into the scandal.

In his letter, Boehm told the Executive Council that legal precedent shows that "loopholes" cannot be used to let wrongdoing go unpunished.

"In light of United States v. Hamilton, these two convenient loopholes are no longer tenable," wrote Boehm. "The facts that led a federal jury to convict (ex-Teamsters political director) William Hamilton on November 19, 1999 of six criminal counts of conspiracy, embezzlement, fraud and perjury call into question the truthfulness of Trumka's denial of wrongdoing as well as the credibility of Sweeney's internal investigation."

Boehm concluded his letter by challenging the council to take action this week, saying that the ALF-CIO's February 15-17 Executive Council meeting in New Orleans is "your first since Hamilton was convicted (and) provides an excellent opportunity to exercise your authority."

A union spokesperson told Monday that Trumka was out of town and would not be available for comment.