Hoffa Campaign Ordered to Return $42,000 in Contributions

IBT Election Administrator William A. Wertheimer overseeing the Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters 2001 election found Apr. 12 that IBT boss James P. Hoffa’s reelection campaign received some $42,000 in improper contributions to its legal and accounting fund and that Hoffa must return the contributions.

The ruling stems from a protest filed by Tom Leedham, who is challenging Hoffa for the IBT presidency. Leedham asserted the Hoffa reelection campaign organization received improper contributions from union vendors. Under court-approved rules governing the election, candidates cannot receive contributions from any vendor who has performed services for IBT or its locals within the last 12 months. The rules governing the election require candidates to file periodic reports with Wertheimer detailing contributions and expenditures. These reports are available for review by a candidate’s opponent.

Reviewing Hoffa’s submissions, the election administrator found Hoffa’s campaign received $104,455 in contributions to its accounting and legal fund. Of this, $36,750 came from union vendors and already has been returned by the campaign. Another $5,000 should have been returned but has not yet been. Wertheimer’s accounting staff still is trying to determine the propriety of another $37,200 in contributions.

Wertheimer pointed out that all the improper legal and accounting contributions were made prior to the May 2000 adoption of rules for the election by IBT’s Gen. Executive Bd, and were not barred as such when the contributions were made. Wertheimer therefore ordered the Hoffa campaign to immediately return all unreturned contributions that have been identified as improper and to establish an escrow account to cover those identified contributions where the staff still is trying to make a determination as to their propriety.

Hoffa campaign spokesman Richard Leebove said Apr. 24 the campaign will not appeal the decision. It has returned most of the questionable contributions and is cooperating with Wertheimer’s auditors to determine the status of others. It also is working with the administrator to develop a consistent way of identifying vendors who are potential contributors and who may have done business recently with the union. [BNA 4/25/01]