IPSN Issue, May 18, 1997
Union Boss Feted by Cook County Democrats
A Profile of Edward T. Hanley, Mobbed Up President of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union
Chicago and Illinois politicians who publicly cry about the need to crackdown on corruption turn out to be the very same people who are willing to turn their backs on the problem when they need to raise money.
So it should not be surprising that the Cook County Democratic Organization, and the state’s political leadership are planning to salute a man whose ties to organized crime continue to plague his career, Edward T. Hanley.
The Organization will fete Hanley at a $125-a-person cocktail reception and fundraiser on June 17 at Plumber’s Hall.
“If the politicians need to use a guy like Hanley to raise money for their coffers, why stop with him? Why not just go right to the top and invite a guy like Joey Lombardo. Why didn’t they honor a guy like Tony Accardo, for that matter?” said CCPA President John J. Flood, a recognized authority on organized crime figures and their activities.
“The very fact that Hanley is being used as the lure to bring money into this event, indicates how pervasive the stranglehold of organized crime is on our everyday lives.” Flood called on Democratic Party Chairman Thomas G. Lyons, a former Chicago cop, to withdraw Hanley’s name as the honoree for the evening.
Hanley, who has never been charged with or convicted of a crime, has been the ironfisted ruler of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union since 1973, deemed by the Justice Department as the most corrupt union in America.
The union is considered one of the largest in the country, and in Chicago has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians at every level of government including Gov. Jim Edgar and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
The union has 300,000 members nationally and nearly 40,000 in Illinois with one third in Chicago. Hanley’s repeated re-elections have overshadowed the more sinister side of a career plagued by facts and rumors of mob connections and ties.
“Tony Accardo was never convicted of a crime either and I don’t think that alone justifies saying he did not head one of the most ruthless mob families in America,” Flood said.
Hanley has been a frequent recicpient of honors from Chicago and Illinois politicians from both sides of the political aisle, mainly because his legion of supporters will pay the money to buy the tickets the politicians need sold.
Rumors have persisted that Hanley was handpicked to head the union in 1973 by Mobster Joey Aiuppa, but Flood said the insiders believe that Hanley’s real sponsor was the late Murray “The Camel” Humphreys. Humphreys was the man who Allan Dorfman first approached years ago when a young Jimmy Hoffa was searching for backing to become the national president of the Teamsters.
Dorfman told Humphreys that if the Chicago Mob would back Hoffa with money and manpower, Hoffa, in turn, would do the mob’s bidding, and he did. Humphreys became sort of a job placement recruiter for potential union activists who could, in years to come, serve the mob’s interests at the expense of union workers.
Certainly the young Hanley had the backing of Aiuppa, the longtime boss of Cicero and later the Outfit’s top man in Chicago, who was convicted in 1986 in the Las Vegas skimming case.
He served 28 years in a federal prison and died earlier this year. Aiuppa’s driver was Sam “Wings” Carlisi, a partner in a Cicero trucking company with Ernest Rocco Infelise, another incarcerated mob figure.
Not surprisingly, Hanley has maintained a cozy relationship with Chicago and Illinois politicians, who complain about crime from one side of their mouths, and turn to mob linked union officials to help them raise the money to keep them in office so they can continue to complain about crime.
In 1992, Hanley surfaced as Daley’s chief ally in promoting a $2 billion gambling complex. For Hanley, it was sweet revenge for the days when he was sent packing out of Atlantic City by the Justice Department.
In 1991, Hanley agreed to let a federal court supervise the Atlantic City union Local 54 that the Justice Department said was controlled by the Philadelphia mob.
According to the Justice Department, Hanley split the Atlantic City union into two locals, a move supported back then by Philadelphia Organized Crime figure Angelo Bruno.
Hanley, according to the Justice Department, met with Bruno to discuss the change before a decision was made. Bruno wanted the union to lend money to people designated by his crime family.
The feds filed a suit against Local 54 alleging that the union had been run to benefit the Bruno crime family rather than its members.
After Bruno’s murder in 1980, Hanley merged the two locals back into one.
The source for Hanley’s ties to key mob figures is not just rumors.
It comes from the files of the US Justice Department, which has alleged that Hanley maintained ties to Bruno, Accardo, Aiuppa, John Lardino, Alfred Pilotto and Anthony Spilotro, one of the most notorious and ruthless mob killers who roamed Chicago.
In fact, under his control, Hanley padded the payroll with friends, relatives and people with known mob ties. Meanwhile, the union’s assetts dropped from $21 million when he was elected in May, 1973, to less than $14.5 million in 1977.
The attraction of a union to a mob organization is the union’s pension fund investments and medical plans which are supposed to go to benefit union rank and file, most of whom could never enter the same restaurants to eat as Hanley and his Syndicate friends.
And, the main attraction of a union like that controlled by Hanley to the politicians, also is the union’s ability to dish out cash contributions in large amounts.
And that explains Mayor Daley’s ties to Hanley and why he continually turns his back to Hanley’s shadowy past. Hanley did what everyone does who is pegged as a mobbed up union leader.
He issued a denial, saying, “I have never been associated with any persons known to be members of any organized crime family.”
Hanley began his career with a nudge from Humphreys and a boost from Aiuppa, becoming a business agent for a Cicero union local founded by Aiuppa.
And it’s not just Justice Department suspicions that have raised eyebrows about Hanley and the union he now heads. Carl Walsh, Accardo’s personal attorney, received more than $100,000 in payments in retainer fees in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s by Hanley’s union, at a time when Hanley was the union’s boss.
When he was asked about Walsh during an appearance before the Federal subcommittee investigating the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union in 1984, Hanley refused to answer on the grounds of possible self-incrimination. Hanley didn’t hand out his little note then denying any knowledge of mob figures.
In fact, Hanley, of North Suburban Antioch, refused to answer all of the 36 questions put to him, by the subcommittee, pleading the 5th Amendment each time. Maybe Hanley believes that in 20 years, people can forget a lot.
“We intend not to forget and we intend to remind the public of Hanley’s shadowy past and his track record, which speaks more accurately to his links to mob figures than his empty words on press releases,” said Flood. Hanley’s rise to aflluence and power is almost miraculous.
In 1961, he filed bankruptcy, and today owns a spacious $650,000 Lake County estate designed for horse owners. He also has owned a house in Palm Springs. His salary from the union is upwards of $223,000 a year. He even received $31,000 from Chicago’s Local 1 union, in 1995, which just happened to be headed by his son, Thomas Hanley “for advice” on how the son should run his own union.
“What Lyons and others are planning as a ‘salute to the American Labor movement,’ is in fact a salute to the effectiveness by which Organized Crime has been able to infiltrate our unions so smoothly and effectively,” Flood said.
“We know that the mob controls many unions, and we all know Hanley’s background. To pretend that he can off-set these legitimate concerns about his past and his mob ties is an insult to all those who champion the fight against organized crime.”