Teamsters Troubled by Carey Corruption Charge

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: He's been walking on air in the five days since the Teamster's victory over UPS. But Ron Carey was brought down to earth with a bang today when a federal official declared his 1996 re-election null and void over alleged campaign finance abuses.

Federal investigators have yet to point the finger at the union boss, but the very existence of the allegation that his campaign manager used a Massachusetts telemarketer to funnel $221,000 out of the Teamster treasury has stolen some of his thunder. "Carey's reputation as a reformer is shattered," says TIME's Bruce Van Voorst. "His halo is tarnished."

Carey has been down this road before. Earlier federal probes have focused on alleged ties to the Mob (he was later exonerated), and the purchase of a string of pricey vacation properties. But with the UPS settlement under his belt, notes Van Voorst, Carey should still be able to defeat Hoffa in the fresh elections scheduled for December. But the timing couldn't be worse: Teamsters are gearing up for an agressive membership drive. Charges of corruption aren't the best advertisement.