A 'Friendship' Adrift On Political
By John E. Mulligan, Christopher Rowland, Russell Garland Elliot Krieger, Peter Dujardin and Scott MacKay
Journal-Bulletin staff writers
June 24, 1996
Rhode Island's Arthur Coia is in the national
news again. The June 24 issue of Time magazine carries a story
on the Laborers Union chief, headlined "Fruits of their Labor.
How did a big Clinton supporter manage to dodge racketeering charges
and get to clean up his union?"
Time says Coia "is eager to talk down
his White House ties. Though he sat at Mr. Clinton's table during
a fund-raiser as recently as May and has enjoyed at least one
breakfast meeting with the first lady, Coia insists he was never
really a friend of the President's and did not actually enjoy
"putting on a tuxedo to go to the White House." It is
"part of my job," he says blandly, "to win the
good will of powerful politicians."
That's an update on Coia's earlier accounts
of his relationship with Mr. Clinton. One came in a Journal-Bulletin
interview in March 1995, before the controversy arose about how
his union - long linked to the Mafia - had staved off a federal
Coia boasted about his meetings with Mr.
Clinton - including a one-on-one session in the Oval Office, during
which the President initiated an exchange of golf clubs with the
labor leader. Coia also said:
"Am I a friend of President Clinton? Well, I would like to think I am a friend. . . . He would recognize me in a crowd, which he has, and he would refer to me on a first-name basis, trying to get a game of golf, which he said he wanted to do. . . ."