Panel To Focus On Coia, Clinton
A House committee will examine the
administration's handling of an investigation into union corruption.
Journal-Bulletin Staff Report
RELATED STORIES: The worlds of Arthur
WASHINGTON -- A congressional committee
has set hearings for July 24 and 25 into corruption in the Laborers'
Union of North America.
The House Judiciary Committee's Crime
subcommittee, led by Republican Bill McCollum of Florida, will
focus on the Clinton administration's handling of the Laborers'
union and of its president, Arthur A. Coia of Rhode Island.
Last year, after a three-year racketeering
investigation by the Justice Department, the union reached an
agreement with the department that averted a government takeover
of the 750,000-member union.
This month's hearings will explore
why the Justice Department agreed to allow Coia, a prominent Democratic
supporter of President Clinton, to oversee internal reforms of
the union, after the department had initially sought a government
takeover to purge the Laborers' of alleged Mafia control.
The congressional hearings, first
announced last month by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have been
billed both as a partisan witch hunt to embarrass Mr. Clinton
in an election year and as a legitimate inquiry into the extent
of organized-crime influence in one of North America's biggest
Paul J. McNulty, the subcommittee's
Republican counsel, said yesterday that the Justice Department's
agreement with the Laborers' raises valid questions to be explored.
"As an approach to ridding unions
of organized crime, [the agreement] represents a significant departure,"
said McNulty, "and we want to take a look at how it developed."
He added that Coia's political relationship with the White House
at the time of the Justice Department's investigation "is
something we want to set out before the public
But the subcommittee's Democratic
counsel, John Flannery, takes a more skeptical view of Republican
motives: "I hope I'm going to be surprised,
because this is an area worth looking into. But I think this is
going to be a big P.R. hit."
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