UAW president says he can 'withstand the scrutiny' of federal investigators
'Our union has suffered enough as a result of corrupt leaders,' the new president says
United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble said he can "withstand the scrutiny" after a report late Tuesday that the federal government is investigating financial dealings between Gamble, the union's former vice president Jimmy Settles and one of its highest-paid vendors.
"I would not have accepted the role of president if I couldn't withstand the scrutiny," Gamble said in a statement. "Our union has suffered enough as a result of corrupt leaders. On my watch, we cannot and will not allow financial improprieties to rob our members of their hard-earned dollars. My sole focus as President is to strengthen the union's financial controls, oversight and accounting system — and most importantly, to restore the trust of our union members."
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The investigation is looking into whether UAW leaders got kickbacks in exchange for awarding contracts for union-branded goods to Jason Gordon, according to the report, which cited two anonymous sources.
Gamble, 64, was appointed president in December after Gary Jones resigned in November over allegedly falsified expense reports. Before reaching the top of the union, Gamble was a regional director, then took over from Settles as vice president.
"At the [UAW-Ford National Programs Center] President Gamble instituted a strict three-bid process for any purchases above $5,000 when he became Vice President," UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg told FOX Business. "If Mr. Gordon got any business at the NPC during that time it would have been because he won a bid."
The union pushed back against The Detroit News' report that UAW officials took secret cash payments at a Detroit strip club called Bouzouki Greektown.
"President Gamble can say he never took one red cent personally from Mr. Gordon or directly solicited anything from Mr. Gordon," Rothenberg said. "And President Gamble has never been to that establishment with Mr. Gordon. It simply is not true and never happened."
Gordon hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing, and his lawyer Christopher Andreoff told The Detroit News that Gordon "vehemently denies all of the allegations as being untrue."
The union also took issue with The Detroit News detailing that Gamble didn't pay all of his state income taxes and lost two homes to foreclosure, including one on Eldorado Place in Lathrup Village, Mich. Gamble has paid all his taxes to the best of his knowledge, Rothenberg said.
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"Like many in Detroit and across the nation, the property President Gamble had on Eldorado suffered in the economic collapse as the real estate market shifted downward," Rothenberg said. "As such it was a short-sale that covered the cost of the property. Any filings were part of the short sale process as was the income tax which was part of the short sale process."
Rank-and-file UAW members got some good news earlier Wednesday. GM and Ford promoted a combined 1,500 temporary workers to full-time status as a result of their new contracts ratified by the union in the fall.
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FOX Business' James Leggate contributed to this report.