Tribune Staff Writer
February 14, 2000

A member of an embattled union that has been criticized for paying large fees to consultants called Sunday on Ald. Patrick Levar (45th) to account for $260,000 his firm was paid.

Martin Preib, a doorman at a Chicago hotel and leader of a rival group within the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union’s Local 1, said he would make a formal request that union officials either explain the payments or recover money paid to Levar’s firm, Gateway Associates, between 1988 and 1996.

A court-appointed monitor probing allegations of mismanagement within the union leadership has said he found “no reports” explaining what work Levar’s firm performed for the union.

Levar, who is running for Cook County Circuit Court clerk, could not be reached for comment. His campaign manager, Kathy Hayes, said Levar’s office had not received a request from Preib to account for the fees and would not comment until then.

Under federal labor law, union officials must act within a reasonable amount of time to address members’ concerns about financial management, either by explaining fees or suing to recover them. Efforts to reach union officials were unsuccessful.

The powerful union once headed by the late Edward T. Hanley came under renewed fire last week after investigators concluded a member of the controversial Duff family cheated the organization out of $172,000, and ran a Florida bookmaking operation while on union payrolls.

Levar’s involvement with the union first surfaced in August 1998, in a report by federal monitor Kurt Muellenberg on corruption and anti-democratic activities within union leadership. In that report, investigators questioned millions of dollars in consulting contracts to Hanley’s friends and associates. Among the contracts cited were $50,000 to former congressman Dan Rostenkowski for producing one memo, and $213,700 to the son of reputed Chicago mobster Pat Marcy for “public relations.”

Under his contract, Levar’s firm received $267,488 “for consulting on state and federal matters” from October 1988 to November 1996. According to Muellenberg’s report, there is no indication what Levar did.

“I am particularly concerned . . . that (Levar) took the money during a time that the union was under federal investigation for corruption and gross mismanagement,” Preib said at a Sunday news conference.

Muellenberg began monitoring the union’s affairs in 1995 after the U.S. Justice Department sued the union, charging a quarter-century of influence from organized crime.