A primary requirement of accepting the job as a U.S. Attorney is to never allow any form of conflict of interest to develop that may put into question the credibility of the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Federal Court system.
A 2014 case in the Western District of New York involving the infamous Local 17 labor union — long thought to have ties to organized crime — was a very serious case that impacts the safety and security of American citizens and businesses.
The defendants involved in this case were accused of both threatening violence and of taking violent action on behalf of their union. According to The Buffalo News, the violent activity included stabbing a company executive, threatening to sexually assault a company representative’s wife, and the destruction of occupied cars and heavy construction equipment.
U.S. Attorney William C. Hochul — Governor Kathy Hochul‘s husband — and his office were tasked with prosecuting this case against the Local 17 members.
The prosecution also involved the AFL-CIO, which employed its own legal team to support the defendant’s legal teams because they deemed that a positive outcome for the defendants was critical to all of the union’s future activities.
The AFL-CIO feared a precedent may be set in these cases resulting in the loss of the “Enmons Loophole,” case law that provides unions a defense when violence occurs in pursuit of union objectives.
The case against the union and its members impacts the safety and security of U.S. citizens and private companies, their employees, and property. The U.S. Attorney was tasked with representing these claimants and the victims of these violent crimes and his office had a responsibility to aggressively — without any outside influences — prosecute these cases to their fullest extent.
This standard was not met.
At the time, U.S. Attorney Hochul’s wife was serving as the Erie County Clerk and running for Congress in a special election following the abrupt resignation of Rep. Chris Lee.
During that congressional campaign, Mrs. Hochul received support — from the same unions involved in this case pending before her husband — that can only be described as game changing, including more than $250,000, much of it in large cash contributions, scores of volunteer campaign workers, and huge independent expenditures on advertising that was (ostensibly) uncoordinated with her campaign.
Mrs. Hochul’s election to Congress and these funds greatly benefited Mr. Hochul financially as a family.
On June 25, 2012, Mrs. Hochul repaid herself a $250,000 personal loan that she had extended to her campaign months before. That repayment came from her campaign account and was funded by this conflicted union money.
As they were making these payments to Mrs. Hochul’s congressional campaign, the unions were highly engaged in a major case involving her U.S. Attorney husband.
In fact, the day prior to Hochul repaying herself the $250,000 – Local 17 paid $5,000 into that same account.
The following summarizes the game-changing campaign support that Mrs. Hochul received from Local 17 and the AFL-CIO concurrent with major actions being taken by her husband in Federal Court involving those very same unions.
The unions’ support was widely recognized as having a determinative impact in the socially conservative, blue-collar district that harbors great resentment of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the loss of the domestic manufacturing industry:
- The AFL-CIO contributed over $250,000 in cash to Mrs. Hochul’s campaigns both prior to and immediately following her special election victory in 2011.
- Performed over 30,000 phone calls
- Knocked on over 20,000 doors
- Distributed over 30,000 fliers at work sites
The Hochuls even accepted the UAW’s offer to hold her campaign night reception at the AFL-CIO Buffalo members’ headquarters.
Incredibly, Mr. Hochul — apparently — felt there was no conflict of interest involved with his family accepting this gift. The U.S. Attorney partied at the Buffalo union headquarters with the same unions he was facing in federal court at the same time.
Read the UWUA statement.
Ultimately this support contributed greatly to the election of Mrs. Hochul, which of course accrued intangible, access, and monetary benefits that members of the Hochul family enjoyed as a result of this victory.
Mrs. Hochul’s acceptance of these gifts and large cash contributions completely compromised the U.S. Attorney — and by association, his Office — during the prosecution of these cases.
Significant sentencing reductions were handed down, and the case was deemed a partial victory for the unions.
“A review of this case by an independent investigator is warranted. Corrective and preventive action must be performed to prevent such misconduct in the future,” Councilman Mike Madigan, of Grand Island, says.
The behavior of Mr. Hochul and his wife, in this case, is not unique and has been repeated in many other cases.
“This chronic and long-term corruption of the federal justice system by the Hochuls must be stopped and action must be taken to prevent similar corruption,” Madigan explains.
As per The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: “Federal courts in the Western District of New York appear to grant an unusually high number of sentence reductions for criminals”.
As per the same article, Mr. Hochul affirmed, ‘the District, as well, has some of the longest sentences.“