Jury Convicts Former Teamster, Gore Aide Implicated

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Former Teamster political director William Hamilton, Jr was convicted in federal court Friday on six counts of perjury, mail fraud, wire fraud, embezzlement and conspiracy. The jury deliberated less than two days before delivering the verdict in the trial which implicated one of Vice President Al Gore's campaign finance advisors and a close associate of President Bill Clinton.

Hamilton was convicted for his role in a plot to donate union money to liberal groups and political organizations in exchange for donations to Teamsters President Ron Carey's re-election campaign. (Two of Carey's top campaign aides pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme. Carey won the Teamster's presidential campaign, but that decision was eventually overturned.)

Mary Jo White, the U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case said she is pleased with the jury's decision. "We are gratified by the jury's verdict, which sends a clear and unmistakable message that rank and file union dues cannot be misappropriated to promote one union candidate over another," White said.

During Hamilton's trial, a witness for federal prosecutors implicated one of Gore's top campaign finance officials, Terence McAuliffe, in a scheme to swap funds between donors, political groups and Teamsters President Ron Carey's re-election campaign.

Former Democratic National Committee Finance Director Richard Sullivan testified during the trial that McAuliffe, then the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign finance chairman, urged DNC officials to find a wealthy donor to contribute to Carey's re-election campaign. In return, the Teamsters would donate half a million dollars to numerous Democratic Party organizations.

McAuliffe is not charged in the case. His attorney Richard Ben-Veniste maintains that his client did nothing wrong and is cooperating with the federal prosecutors. Ben-Veniste, former chief of the Watergate task force, served as Special Counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee Democrats from May 1995 to June 1996.

McAuliffe made headlines more recently when he co-signed the $1.3 million loan for the president and First Lady Hillary Clinton.

That arrangement soon garnered increased scrutiny from the media and sparked a complaint to the Federal Elections Commission on the grounds that it constituted an illegal campaign contribution to Mrs. Clinton's possible Senate campaign.

The FEC agreed to review the matter and McAuliffe eventually withdrew from the deal, leaving the Clintons to find other means to finance the $1.7 million home in New York's Westchester County.