The multi-year investigation into attempts by auto executives to curry favor with UAW leaders, including expensive gifts, trips and cash, expanded again today with FBI raids in four states, including the Detroit-area home of current president Garry Jones.
The raids were conducted in Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri and California by not only the FBI, but also the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor. The current focus of the investigation centers on the funds funneled to the nonprofits headed by UAW officials.
In Michigan, investigators raided the home of Jones as well as offices at the UAW’s Black Lake Conference Center in northern Michigan. They also examined retirement home under construction for previous president Dennis Williams. They raided Williams’ home in California, where he moved in January.
Investigators also searched the Janesville, Wisconsin home of Williams’ former top aide, Amy Loasching, who is listed as the secretary and treasurer of Williams’ nonprofit, the Williams Charity Fund, on a 2018 tax exemption form filed by the charity, the Detroit News reported.
Investigators are looking to see if senior union officials not only took payoffs but also may have benefited from contributions to their personal nonprofit organizations.
That possibility, according to the News, was raised last year when former UAW official Nancy Adams Johnson told investigators that Williams approved the use of funds from the Detroit Big Three automakers to pay for travel, meals and other union expenses.
The raids come during a difficult time for the union as it is in the midst of negotiations with Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. Earlier parts of the government’s query involved FCA and GM. Regardless, it makes it tough for the union to make demands when the officials making them could be arrested at any moment.
The investigation has seen nine officials investigated with eight of them seeing jail time. The ninth, former UAW-Fiat Chrysler leader General Holiefield died before he was convicted of any wrongdoing. UAW officials decried today’s actions by investigators as “unnecessary.”
“The UAW and President Gary Jones have always fully cooperated with the government investigators in this matter. As the leader of the UAW, President Jones is determined to uncover and address any and all wrongdoing, wherever it might lead,” Rothenberg said in a statement.
“There was absolutely no need for search warrants to be used by the government today — the UAW has v
oluntarily responded to every request the government has made throughout the course of its investigation, produced literally hundreds of thousands of documents and other materials to the government, and most importantly, when wrongdoing has been discovered, we have taken strong action to address it.”
In addition to the raid on Jones’ home in metro Detroit, investigators also raided the UAW Region 5 office near St. Louis, where Jones served as regional director before being elected president. The office is also was the registered address for Jones’ charity, 5 Game Changers.
Federal investigators were also questioning UAW officials’ use of almost $1 million of membership dues on condominiums, liquor, food and golf in Palm Springs, California, where Jones held annual conferences before becoming president in 2018.