Teamsters, Obama Deny Quid Pro Quo

Support for ending oversight preceded union's backing
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2008 1:37 PM CDT
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton waits to be introduced at rally in support of the Employees Free Choice Act, June 19, 2007, on Capitol Hill in Washington. At left is Teamsters President James P. Hoffa.    (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – Before winning the Teamsters’ endorsement, Barack Obama said he’d support ending government oversight of the union, an unusual stance for a presidential candidate, reports the Wall Street Journal. An independent board has policed the historically organized-crime-influenced Teamsters since 1992; Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and Al Gore left the matter to the Justice Department.

An Obama spokesman said the board “has run its course” because mob influence has waned. A union spokesman said the endorsement was “predicated in no way, shape or form” on Obama’s private reassurances. A spokesman for Hillary Clinton jumped on the issue, but Politico reported that she told a Teamster audience in 2007 it could be time to “turn the page” on federal oversight.