Despite White’s Attacks, diGenova Wins IRB Post

The Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters’ Indep. Rev. Bd., the internal oversight body created under a 1989 consent decree, will have a new composition as the result of a pair of actions by the Dep’t of Justice and U.S. Dist. Judge Loretta A. Preska  (S.D.N.Y. H.W. Bush). On Aug. 8, Preska after a brief hearing, approved IBT’s designation of ex-U.S. Atty. Joseph E. diGenova to be its representative on the three-member IRB. A few hours later, U.S. Atty. Mary Jo White announced that Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft had designated Benjamin R. Civiletti, who was an attorney general in the Carter administration, to be DOJ’s representative on IRB. IRB’s third member will be chosen jointly by the other two, and each member has a five-year term.

If Preska approves, Civiletti will replace ex-U.S. Dist. Judge Frederick B. Lacey (D.N.J. Nixon) who served as IBT’s court-appointed independent administrator from 1989-92 before assuming a seat on the IRB when it was formed in Oct. 1992. DiGenova replaces Grant Crandall, a labor attorney appointed as IBT’s representative in 1996 by disgraced ex-IBT boss Ron Carey.

Preska approved the appointment of diGenova, despite attacks by White, a Clinton-appointee, who reportedly did not favor having a conservative on IRB. Columnist Robert Novak reported on Aug. 2 that White was seeking effective veto power over IRB selections. Despite the fact that White should have no role whatever in picking IRB members, she killed DOJ plans to name diGenova. IBT boss James P. Hoffa then stymied White by selecting diGenova. White immediately launched an underground campaign to try to block diGenova again.  White contended in a letter to Preska that diGenova should be critically questioned as to his ability to remain neutral while serving on IRB. Which led Novak to ask: “So, why has Clinton’s prosecutor “indefinitely” been kept in office, with apparently an extra-legal veto? ‘They’re scared to death of Mary Jo White at Justice,’ explains one well-placed Republican lawyer.”  In end, however, it appears someone at DOJ did stand up to her.

Hard-left critics of Hoffa expressed concern over diGenova’s appointment. “It concerns us that he’s someone from the far right,” said Ken Paff, leader of the leftist Teamsters for a Democratic Union. “He’s certainly not someone who’s pro-labor.”

But the IRB developments led the Detroit News to editorialize: “It is precisely diGenova’s independence and integrity that attracted Hoffa, who recognizes that the best chance for the Teamsters to regain control of their union is to get a squeaky-clean bill of health from a credible IRB. Wednesday’s appointments move that process forward significantly. Civiletti and diGenova will now select a third member of the IRB. That choice will be critical. That the IRB has been unable to fully accomplish its mission–indeed, it allowed an election fraud to unfold during its watch–speaks to the need for careful consideration of this appointment to bring about the final independence of the union.”

Civiletti, who is chairman of the law firm Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti, served as Atty. Gen. from 1979-81, after having been Deputy Atty. Gen.l from 1978-79 and Assistant to the Atty. Gen. in charge of DOJ’s Criminal Division from 1977-78. He was an Asst. U.S. Attorney from 1962-64.  [BNA 8/10/01; Det. News 8/7, 8/9/01; Chi. Sun-Times 8/2/01]