MediaWatch

From July 1996

On the Bright Side

Coia and the Mafia

Both Newsweek and Time have filed stories detailing the interesting relationship between President Clinton and Arthur Coia, head of the Laborers International Union of North America. The Justice Department's suspension of a federal takeover of the union coincided with generous donations to Clinton from both Coia and the union.

 

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman were first on the story in the May 20 issue, noting the union has given more than $3 million to the Democrats since 1991.

 

The June 24 Time story by reporter George Church suggested the relationship seemed to pay off for Coia: "After three months of negotiations, however, the Justice Department persuaded the union to sign a consent decree acknowledging Mob influence and conceding to court-appointed officers.

 

But the department agreed to hold off filing the decree...The deal left Coia on the job even though the original complaint described him as `associated with and controlled and influenced by organized-crime figures.'

 

Those are documentable facts...Did Justice make a deal because of Coia's White House connections?" Church added: "The unprecedented agreement dismayed some investigators in the field, who had spent years building the case against the union."

 

Church also noted: "Though there is no evidence of a White House-engineered fix, the laborers' lavish donations to the Democratic Party and Coia's frequent appearances at the White House -- as well as deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes' past life as a lawyer for the Laborers -- may hand the Republicans a campaign issue."


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