The Washington Times

[Letter to Editor]

February 14, 2000

In Defense of Arthur A. Coia: Round 2

Is the news so slim these days that you have to take shots at the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) and Arthur A. Coia twice in six days?

We barely get time to correct the errors of Arnold Beichman ("And he keeps the Ferraris," Commentary, Feb. 2), when you repeat them, and get even more wrong in your editorial ("Another convict for Clinton," Feb. 8).

Well, as many times as you get the record wrong - and we stopped counting a long time ago - we will try to correct it. So here it goes, for the umpteenth and hopefully last time:

* A 1996 congressional inquiry concluded that there was no "sweetheart deal" for the LIUNA, and your paper reported that. You've raised the issue and we've refuted it, attempting to set the record straight over and over. Isn't this enough, already?

* Mr. Coia's salary as general president was $250,000 a year, and no matter how many times you misreport it, it won't be higher. That salary was voted on by 1996 LIUNA convention delegates, and is provided to the position of general president (not specifically to Mr. Coia) by the LIUNA constitution. Our board did not increase the salary for Mr. Coia by 34 percent, or even 1 percent. What are you folks smokin' over there at The Times, anyway?

* As general president emeritus, Mr. Coia receives the difference between the pension he earned with 42 years of service to our union, and the former salary he earned as general president. You keep misreporting this, and the amount of his compensation, over and over again. But that doesn't make it true.

* Mr. Coia was the subject of multiple investigations, grand juries hearings and depositions for the past five years. The Department of Justice was relentless in examining every facet of his life. How anyone can even suggest that the Justice Department kindly gave him a "parting gift" simply boggles the mind and stretches the imagination.

* Mr. Coia never slept in the Lincoln Bedroom, never flew on Air Force One, never played golf with the president and has not spoken to him in more than a year. He was a strong supporter of the Clinton administration because of its stand on issues affecting working families. It is a ludicrous and erroneous assumption that their relationship constitutes a close personal friendship.

The Washington Times plays fast and loose with the facts whenever it suits your purposes. Well, at LIUNA, we think enough is enough, and yes, that is our final answer.


Director of public affairs
Laborers' International Union
of North America


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