Mary Jo White-wash

Posted: Mar 01, 2001 12:00 AM
While ostentatiously pursuing an "investigation" of the Marc Rich pardon (which will lead precisely nowhere), Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, has stubbornly refused to indict top Democratic and union officials directly implicated in a money-laundering scheme uncovered by her own office some years ago.

In what is now called the Teamsters Swap Scandal, prosecutors working for Mary Jo White won three guilty pleas from top Teamsters aides back in 1997. Two years later, the Teamsters' former political director, William Hamilton, was convicted for his role in the kickback scheme. But for four years now, the Big Kahunas implicated in the money-swap operation have been largely forgotten by White's office. One big fish studiously ignored by Ms. White is the current chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton pal, Terry McAuliffe.

At the center of the money-laundering scheme was Ron Carey, who had been anointed Teamsters president by "the most ethical administration in history" as part of an ingenious plan to "clean up" the Teamsters. When Teamsters legacy James Hoffa Jr. later challenged Carey for the union presidency in 1996, Carey's aides -- and perhaps Carey himself -- decided to give the Carey campaign a boost using general union funds.

As was proved by the government, both in oversight and criminal investigations, the Carey campaign repeatedly arranged for the Teamsters to make huge contributions to various liberal and Democratic groups, and then those groups would funnel the money right back -- not to the Teamsters, but to the Carey campaign. This is on the order of the IRS commissioner using tax revenues to buy himself a Porsche.

After sitting on evidence for four years that implicated Carey, the tough-talking Ms. White finally indicted him only days after George W. Bush was sworn in as president. But even a Republican in the White House hasn't prompted Clinton-appointed White to blink in her intractable refusal to pursue McAuliffe.

This is somewhat startling inasmuch as White's own office adduced testimony during the Hamilton trial naming McAuliffe as a party to the money-laundering operation. Democratic Party official Richard Sullivan testified that his former boss, Terry McAuliffe, outlined a plan to him that would allow the Democratic National Committee to participate in the Teamsters' evidently well-known kickback scheme. Sullivan said that McAuliffe told him the Democratic Party would be rewarded with up to a million dollars in campaign contributions from the Teamsters if the Democrats could find someone to donate $100,000 to the Carey campaign.

(Though completion of the scheme is not required for a criminal offense, the Teamsters came through with their quid. The donor located by the Democrats for their quo backed out at the last minute.)

Though Sullivan later told Senate investigators he did not view this arrangement as money laundering but rather as a way to "help raise money from the union," Sen. Arlen Specter informed Mr. Sullivan that he was using language that "is the equivalent of a quid pro quo."

After Sullivan's shocking trial testimony, even The New York Times was forced to admit that Sullivan's description of McAuliffe's role was "troubling." While trying to mitigate the force of Sullivan's testimony by incorrectly claiming that he had been given a "no-prosecution" deal from the prosecutor (correction issued 10 days later), the Times referred vaguely to "some judgment calls" that Mary Jo White was going to have to make with regard to McAuliffe. An indictment seemed imminent.

That was in 1999. We're still waiting. Indeed, according to McAuliffe's lawyer, Richard Ben-Veniste, McAuliffe was given "assurances" three years ago from Mary Jo White's office that he "was not a target of the investigation."

Meanwhile, three other Democratic or union officials have given sworn statements to Senate investigators also fingering McAuliffe as a player in the Teamsters' money-swap scandal.

Not only that, but the three Carey campaign aides who pleaded guilty to felonies back in 1997 still have not been sentenced. Federal judges do not normally wait more than three years to sentence felons -- unless the U.S. attorney has requested that sentencing be delayed.

Why is Mary Jo White blocking their sentencing?

Prosecutors will sometimes request that sentencing be deferred when a convict is cooperating so that the full extent of the cooperation can be known by the court prior to sentencing. But four years is enough time to have these guys describe the history of the world since the Earth cooled -- to say nothing of a simple money-laundering scheme. Either McAuliffe was involved or he wasn't. Does Ms. White need four years to ask the convicted Teamsters aides that?

It took Al Gore's defeat to get an indictment of Ron Carey. It seems it's going to take the man who defeated him to remove New York's own Janet Reno from her office to shut down the Democrat protection racquet being run out of the Southern District of New York.