Bentley backs Bush director Unions had called for his ouster

October 19, 1992|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Staff Writer

Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, one of the nation's most ardent defenders of American-made products, defended her Bush for President campaign director yesterday -- but she also condemned mislabeling practices alleged against a Japanese company he serves as a consultant.

The Mazak Corp., one of several foreign firms represented by campaign director Bo Denysyk, is accused of putting "Made In The USA" labels on machine tools manufactured in Japan.

Mrs. Bentley, who chairs Bush for President in Maryland, said she would not remove Mr. Denysyk -- as suggested by the Clinton campaign in Maryland and organized labor here. As the campaign's daily operations director, Mr. Denysyk works for Mrs. Bentley.

Union officials demanded his ouster Saturday after they learned of his connection with Mazak. Armed with information gathered from public records by the Clinton campaign, the unions made their demand during a news conference.

Mr. Denysyk said Mrs. Bentley knew he worked for Mazak. But the congresswoman said that, until recently, "I was not aware Mazak had any Japanese ties."

When she learned of the alleged mislabeling, she spoke against the practice on the floor of the House of Representatives. "I told Bo I'd have to go after them," she said. "He said go right ahead."

Mr. Denysyk condemned the mislabeling practice as well and has worked to limit Japanese imports, she said.

The unions said Mr. Denysyks' association with Mazak reflected the general insensitivity of the Bush administration to the difficulties of American companies and workers.

"I want to know how Helen Bentley, who bashes Japanese products, can have someone on her payroll who's doing just the opposite," said Ernie Greco, head of the Baltimore AFL-CIO.

Though clearly anxious to defend her own record as an aggressive protector of American workers and American industry, Mrs. Bentley also defended her campaign director.

"Bo has always been pro-American," she said.

But Mr. Greco and the other union members said Mr. Denysyk, especially because he is a Bush campaign worker, should have severed his relationship with Mazak the minute he learned of the allegations.

Mr. Denysyk said on Saturday that he had been aware of the mislabeling charges, which were reported by the CBS program "60 Minutes" on Oct. 4.

The company was accused in 1988 by one of its employees of shipping machine tools to the United States and relabeling them. Subsequently, an $18 million suit was filed on behalf of the whistle-blowing employee and the citizens of the United States.

"60 Minutes" reported that Mazak has offered to settle the suit out of court.

Mr. Denysyk says he went to work for Mazak in 1989, a year after the mislabeling charges were made public. He said he had nothing to do with the alleged misconduct. He was hired through his company, Global USA, to help Mazak find its way through the maze of federal labeling regulations.

A former official in the Department of Commerce in the Reagan Administration, Mr. Denysyk said he has great familiarity with the differing regulations.

He said he believes Mazak should be penalized if found guilty of the charges, and he said he would terminate his relationship with the company if that happened. The television report included interviews with Mazak employees who said they had seen documents attesting to mislabeling or had participated in mislabeling.

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