IRB Clears Michigan Boss, Hoffa Ally

Lawrence Brennan, president of Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 337 in Detroit and the Mich. Teamsters Jt. Council 43, as well as mentor to IBT president James P. Hoffa, was found not guilty by IBT’s Indep. Rev. Bd. June 5 of charges that he masterminded a scheme to use $30,000 in members’ dues for his reelection campaign.

The court-appointed IRB found that there was not enough evidence to convict Brennan, although it found some of the accusations about the embezzling credible. Brennan could have faced expulsion from the union. Before Hoffa was elected union president in Dec. 1998, he was Brennan’s administrative assistant.

IRB said there was contradictory testimony by Local 337’s secretary-treasurer, Colonel W. Myers, who, FBI agents testified, first told them Brennan had formed a scheme to double the Christmas bonuses of officials on the local’s board. The federal investigators said Myers also told them that the bonus checks had been cashed and that the money had then gone to Brennan’s campaign fund.

IRB said it then weighed that testimony against Myers’ later recantation of his account. While the IRB determined that “skepticism was justified” with respect to the manner in which the salary increases and Christmas bonuses were used, it said “suspicions alone are not enough.”

The IRB’s decision states: “We have carefully considered the impact of the agents’ testimony, and while it is a close question, have decided that it falls short of the convincing quality we would want before finding that it should be held as implicating Brennan” and five other defendants. The other defendants were Myers, Robert F. Holmes, Jr., Frank Walker, Richard Gremaud and Charles Isom.

According to Brennan’s attorney, Robert Harrison, IRB investigated the case, then turned it over to federal prosecutors in 1999. The U.S. Atty.’s Office in Detroit found no evidence to indict, Harrison said, and handed the case back to the IRB.

The decision comes three months after the IBT’s internal investigation cleared Brennan, finding that there was insufficient evidence. Previously, IRB called the IBT internal investigation inadequate and insisted on reviewing the matter. [N.Y. Times, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press 6/6/01, BNA 6/7/01]

FEC to Withhold Previously Disclosed AFL-CIO, Union Records
As previously reported, the Fed. Election Comm’n removed a completed Matter Under Review file from the public record in May which reportedly included sworn statements from AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeney, AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Richard L. Trumka, ex-Teamsters political director William W. Hamilton, and ex-Clinton-Gore advisor Tony Coelho. The 6,024 pages reportedly included an exhaustive survey of union political activity.

Now, FEC says it pulled the AFL-CIO case file for “administrative purposes” because of the possibility that some documents in it should not have been included on the public record. Reportedly, when the review of the matter is complete, the file is expected to go back on the public record, according to FEC. Thus, some of the 6,024 pages is expected to be withheld from the public. [BNA 6/11/01]

“National labor leaders have sought to make New York State’s labor movement a model despite its many problems. There have been corruption scandals in the unions representing carpenters, Teamsters and municipal employees.”

– Steven Greenhouse, “Labor Movement Seeks to Make New York a Model of Growth,” N.Y. Times, June 10, 2001.