CHARLES KRAUSE: Today's decision to void last December's Teamsters election centered on improper contributions to Teamster President Ron Carey's winning campaign. He defeated James Hoffa, Jr. by a slim margin, less than 4 percent. Earlier this afternoon I spoke with Barbara Zack Quindel, the federal election overseer who ruled that the campaign contribution was improper and, therefore, ordered the new election. Because her decision may be appealed she couldn't comment on certain aspects of the case.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Barbara Quindel, thank you very much for joining us. The improper campaign contribution, where did the money come from and where did it go?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL, Teamsters Election Overseer: I think I've described in my decision that there was a campaign committee, the Teamsters for a Corruption-Free Union, and that that's where illegal--improper contributions came into this campaign. Because of that and because those contributions may have affected the outcome of the election I've ordered a rerun election.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Now, this campaign committee that you mentioned, that was a Carey committee.
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: That's correct.
CHARLES KRAUSE: How much money came in altogether?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: The contributions from that committee were $221,000.
CHARLES KRAUSE: What was the money used for?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: The money was used for mailing, get-out-the-vote mailing, on behalf of the Carey campaign.
CHARLES KRAUSE: What kinds of things were they doing?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: Well, the mailing went to members urging them to vote. And I found that that may have influenced the outcome of the election and, therefore, ordered the rerun. That's accountability. When rules are broken, there has to be and were here serious consequences. I think it's an important message to members for whom an election is really the clearest opportunity they have to control their union. And this union belongs to its members. They have a right to an election without outside interference. It's critical that the union be able to maintain its most valuable resource: the confidence and support of the members. That's why the rerun election has been planned, and we have gone to the courts with a plan for how that rerun election I think should be handled. The plan includes some new provisions.
CHARLES KRAUSE: All right. But let's go back for a minute, if you don't mind. The scene that you described to funnel improper money into these mailing campaigns, was there an attempt to cover that up? Was this really a plot of some sort?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: Well, one of the things you have to understand is I'm a court officer, and what I found in this decision is subject to appeal. And I am not going to go into the details of it. But I can say that what we found was that there was--there were these contributions that came into the campaign. The contributions were used for a mailing that was sent on behalf of the Carey campaign to voters. And because that mailing could have affected at least a small percentage of the voting membership and given the narrow margins that existed in this campaign, in this election, I found it may have influenced the outcome of the race.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Who was responsible for this?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: Who was responsible for--
CHARLES KRAUSE: For this scheme.
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: A number of people. And those people are identified in the decision, as our investigation found. We interviewed dozens of people in order to reach our conclusions as to how this scheme was implemented.
CHARLES KRAUSE: How about Mr. Carey, himself, is there any reason to believe--do you have any reason to believe that he knew about this scheme?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: My decision finds that from the evidence that we have that Mr. Carey did not know or participate in the scheme. We do, however, find that there are questions that remain unanswered and that my investigation as to Mr. Carey's participation would remain open as to any issue of disqualification. This decision does not disqualify Mr. Carey.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Does not disqualify him, but there is the possibility--and I read that in the description of your decision that I was given--you talk about the possibility that he or perhaps Mr. Hoffa too could be disqualified before the election actually takes place.
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: Well, any candidate in the course of an election can be disqualified. It's one of the remedies in the rules that we follow for actions or violations. The whole question of disqualification, though, is it's a drastic remedy. It's one that isn't imposed without a thorough review of the facts of the situation in every specific case. So it is something that could yet happen, yes.
CHARLES KRAUSE: But could yet happen because you have additional evidence that you are looking at, is that why it could happen?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: The investigation remains open. As of issuing my decision I have stated the evidence that we have as to Mr. Carey or his--involvement.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Now, there is also a grand jury in New York that is looking into this whole issue. How does that relate to your investigation?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: It's a separate investigation. The grand jury is considering violations of criminal laws, and that's really a separate matter from my role, which is to investigate under the consent decree the election rule violations that occurred in this case.
CHARLES KRAUSE: So your findings may to some extent reflect some of what the grand jury may be looking into in terms of criminal matters.
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: I'm really not in a position to comment at all about the grand jury, which is a, you know, confidential matter. I don't know what the grand jury is looking at.
CHARLES KRAUSE: There have, though, been reports that Mr. Carey did, in fact, testify before the grand jury.
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: I think there have been press reports, but what I'm saying is that I have no personal knowledge.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Did he testify before you, or did he give--
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: Yes.
CHARLES KRAUSE: --evidence before your--
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: Yes, he did. And that's outlined in the decision that we conducted a lengthy interview with him.
CHARLES KRAUSE: And he cooperated with your investigation.
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: Yes, he did.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Why did you wait until now to release your decision calling for a new election?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: Well, this was an extensive investigation. It took a great deal of time and effort. And I was not ready--in a position to issue my decision until, you know, within the last few weeks. The UPS strike was underway when I was ready to issue my decision, and I--it was delayed slightly because of that, because--
CHARLES KRAUSE: Why?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: Because I had--I was not going to interfere in a labor-management situation. The members of this union in order to have confidence in my court-ordered process, cannot view that process as interfering with economic livelihood.
CHARLES KRAUSE: At the same time, how do you respond to the Hoffa charge today that it was improper for you to have delayed your decision?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: I'm sure there's going to be charges from many camps and problems people have with my decision. What I did was on behalf of the membership of this union and, as I said, not to become a factor in labor-management relations.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Finally, I think it's important to understand exactly how it is that the federal government has appointed you to oversee the Teamsters elections. Why is that?
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: My position as election officer came--emerged out of a consent decree that was entered into in 1989 between the government, the Justice Department and the Teamsters Union as part of the Justice Department's RICO action. Under that consent order there were court officers provided an election officer was run. There was an election officer appointed to conduct the 1991 election. I was appointed not by the Justice Department but by the court with the ascent of the Justice Department and the union.
CHARLES KRAUSE: But the consent decree, as I understand it, came about because of past corruption and other problems in the Teamsters Union.
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: That's right. And a democratic rank and file election process was viewed by the court--is viewed by the court as a cornerstone to democratizing the organization, maintaining an open and corruption-free union.
CHARLES KRAUSE: So that's what--
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: That's what I'm assigned--the election--running that election is what I was assigned to do, and I'm a court appointee.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Barbara Quindel, thank you for very much for joining us.
BARBARA ZACK QUINDEL: You're welcome.