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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters


              August 27, 1998




Ken Mee

August 27, 1998

Page 1


Ken Mee

42356 Greenbrier Park Drive

Fremont, CA 94538


James P. Hoffa

2593 Hounds Chase

Troy, MI 48098


John Travin, President

The Trade Union Courier

215 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10016

Bradley T. Raymond, Esq.

Finkel, Whitefield, Selik,

  Raymond, Ferrara & Feldman

32300 Northwestern Highway

Suite 200

Farmington Hills, MI 48334


William D. Gross, Secy. - Treas.

Teamsters Local Union 250

4127 Brownsville Road, Ste. A-1

Pittsburgh, PA 15227


Ken Mee

August 27, 1998

Page 1


Re:  Election Office Case Nos. PR-109-JHC-EOH





Ken Mee, a member of Local Union 287 and a candidate for International vice - president, filed a pre-election protest (PR-109) pursuant to Article XIV, Section 2(b) of the Rules for the 1995-1996 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election (“Rules”) against James P. Hoffa.  Mr. Mee alleged that The Trade Union Courier (“Courier”) published and circulated an article containing material which supported Mr. Hoffa’s candidacy.  Mr. Hoffa is a candidate for general president.  Mr. Mee further alleged that Mr. Hoffa received and accepted an improper campaign contribution in connection with the dissemination of the article.  William D. Gross, secretary - treasurer of Local Union 250, filed a protest (PR-203) making an identical allegation.


Mr. Hoffa challenges the timeliness of the protests and asserts that the “media exception” to the Rules applies to the protested material.  “Ultimately,” states Mr. Hoffa’s representative, “we are at a loss as to what further steps we can or should take to ensure that the content of The Trade Union Courier does not ‘cross the line’ into improper campaigning.”


Because the two protests object to the same material, the matters were consolidated by the Election Officer.  The protest was investigated by Election Office Counsel David S. Paull.


Ken Mee

August 27, 1998

Page 1


The protest focuses on the Courier for March/April 1998.  Mr. Gross stated that Local Union 250 received a copy of this issue through the regular mail on the day he filed his protest.  Although Local Union 250 does not maintain a subscription to the Courier according to Mr. Gross, copies are regularly received in the mail.  Mr. Gross states that he has “always received these copies months after the months indicated on the edition.”  The publisher of the Courier did not contradict the statements of Mr. Gross.  The Courier stated that the March/April issue was mailed on April 20, 1998, and that “the post office processing time . . . would explain the lapse in receipt of the issue.”


The Rules at Article XIV, Section 2(b) state that pre-election protests “must be filed within two (2) working days of the day when the protester becomes aware or reasonably should have become aware of the action protested or such protests shall be waived.”  The statement of Mr. Gross and the publisher’s explanation indicate that the protest in P-203 was filed in compliance with the Rules.


Both protests specifically refer to an article published in the March/April 1998 issue of the Courier and appearing under the heading “Hoffa’s Corner.”  This is not the first time that the Election Office has considered protests arising from this publication.  In 1996 and 1997, the Courier had published articles under the designation “Hoffa’s Corner.”  Those articles were the subject of an election protest.  In Mee, PR-045-JHS-PNW (February 18, 1998), aff’d in relevant part, 98 - Elec. App. - 341 (KC) (February 27, 1998), the Election Officer found that the Courier was a publication not supported by union-funds, but was a publication disseminated to the general public specifically targeting those interested in labor news.  Thus, the “media exception” to the regulation of campaign contributions applied to the Courier.  Under that exception, the Election Officer does not exercise jurisdiction over “newspaper or magazine articles published by entities which are not owned or whose editorial policies are not controlled by candidates or committees acting on behalf of candidates.”  Pressler, P-365-LU705-CHI (February 22, 1996); Brennan, P-971-IBT (October 16, 1991); Scott, P-969-IBT (October 18, 1991); Sauwoir, P-041-LU41-EOH, et. seq. (August 16, 1995).  The Election Officer specifically found that the Courier was not owned or controlled by Mr. Hoffa or any other candidate. 


However, the Election Officer also concluded in Mee that the “media exception” did not apply to a specific portion of the “Hoffa’s Corner” article contained in the October/November 1997 issue of the Courier.  That article contained a verbatim reprint of a solicitation by the Hoffa Campaign for contributions of time and money.  The “media exception” does not apply to solicitations for campaign assistance, but is limited only to publications functioning as a provider of news, commentary, or editorial comment.  Rockstroh, P-1003-JHC-EOH (November 5, 1996).  Since the solicitation of funds and assistance were not protected by the “media exception,” the Election Officer determined that the Rules were violated at Article XII, Section 1(b)(1).


Ken Mee

August 27, 1998

Page 1


Like the “Hoffa’s Corner” features from 1996 and 1997, the article that is the subject of this protest is based on material produced by the Hoffa Campaign and is generally supportive of Mr. Hoffa’s candidacy.  The article also contains the following paragraph:


Esquire Profile Praises Hoffa

A profile in the March Issue of Esquire tells the world what most Teamsters already know - that Jim Hoffa is the man who will revive the labor movement.  Every supporter should buy this magazine, make as many copies as possible and pass them out at work.


No evidence was submitted indicating that the Courier is now supported with union-funds or that changes have occurred in ownership or in the manner in which the editorial policies are controlled.  The “media exception,” as previously explained by the Election Officer, therefore applies to the “Hoffa’s Corner” article.


However, the reference to the Esquire Magazine article directly asks “[E]very Hoffa supporter” to buy the magazine, and to make and distribute “as many copies as possible.”  That portion of “Hoffa’s Corner” contains an improper solicitation for campaign assistance which is not protected by the “media exception.”  


Accordingly, the protest is GRANTED.


When the Election Officer determines that the Rules have been violated, he “may take whatever remedial action is appropriate.”  Article XIV, Section 4.  In fashioning the appropriate remedy, the Election Officer views the nature and seriousness of the violation, as well as its potential for interfering with the election process.


Mr. Hoffa’s representative wrote a letter to the Courier dated June 9, 1998, referencing PR-109.  In that letter, the publisher of the Courier was asked not to print any future “Hoffa’s Corner” articles and further requested that the newspaper not use Mr. Hoffa’s photograph.  In addition to the issue for March/April, a “Hoffa’s Corner” article did appear in the Courier for April/May.[1]  The publisher has stated, however, that no further “Hoffa’s Corner” articles are being published.  No “Hoffa’s Corner” articles appear in the Courier newspapers dated May/June or June/July 1998.


The Election Officer therefore orders as follows:


Ken Mee

August 27, 1998

Page 1


1.  The Courier shall cease and desist from making contributions to any candidate for IBT international office and shall specifically desist from printing material which contains the Hoffa Campaign’s address or telephone number.


2.  James P. Hoffa and the Hoffa Campaign shall immediately cease and desist from the acceptance or use of improper employer contributions under the Rules.   James P. Hoffa and the Hoffa Campaign shall also immediately cease and desist from transmitting to the Courier solicitations for contributions of time or money and all other improper written material. 


An order of the Election Officer, unless otherwise stayed, takes immediate effect against a party found to be in violation of the RulesIn re Lopez, 96 - Elec. App. - 73 (KC) (February 13, 1996).


Any interested party not satisfied with this determination may request a hearing before the Election Appeals Master within one (1) day of receipt of this letter.  The parties are reminded that, absent extraordinary circumstances, no party may rely upon evidence that was not presented to the Office of the Election Officer in any such appeal.  Requests for a hearing shall be made in writing and shall be served on:


Kenneth Conboy, Esq.

Latham & Watkins

885 Third Avenue, Suite 1000

New York, NY  10022

Fax:  (212) 751-4864


Copies of the request for hearing must be served on the parties listed above as well as upon the Election Officer, 444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 445, Washington, DC 20001, Facsimile (202) 624-3525.  A copy of the protest must accompany the request for a hearing.






Michael G. Cherkasky

Election Officer




cc:              Kenneth Conboy, Election Appeals Master

Christine M. Mrak, Election Officer Representative

[1]  The Election Officer has reviewed this article and has determined that it invites no improper solicitations for campaign assistance.