Teamsters' New Fight Targets Old Enemies

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The Teamsters are about to file a civil suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — a law often used in the past by the government to combat mob influence in labor. One target of the suit: Teamster ex-president Ron Carey, ejected from the union in 1997 after a finding that his 1996 run for the top job was tainted by campaign-finance abuses.

Sources tell TIME the suit could also name the Democratic National Committee and Richard Trumka, No. 2 at the AFL-CIO. Current Teamster president James P. Hoffa says he and his legal team will "soon decide" who gets named.

By trying to show that Carey's bid was a "corrupt enterprise," the suit will seek to recover some $3 million in union funds spent as a result of the election. Trumka is alleged to have steered AFL-CIO funds to the Carey campaign; he took the Fifth when called before a congressional investigation into the scandal. Federal prosecutors have alleged the DNC was also funneling money to Carey.

Carey, Trumka and the DNC have all said they did nothing improper. The suit could be a blow to the Democrats' presidential hopes by splitting a labor movement they were counting on for united support.