The Senate Labor Committee's Republican majority yesterday urged that Raymond J. Donovan be exonerated of "false allegations" tying him to oranized crime and confirmed as secretary of labor without further delay.
Meanwhile, a government-protected witness, whose allegations have not been investigated by the FBI, confirmed having been told on several occasions that Donovan's New Jersey construction company was linked to gangland figures and was involved in bid-rigging on state construction projects.
The individual, an FBI informant named Pat Kelly who has tesified at several trials of organized crime figures, told The Washington Post that a member of the Genovese crime family, Joe Adonis Jr., told him seveal years ago that "we have the inside there [at Donovan's company]".
Donovan could not be reached for comment but he has denounced similar charges against him and his firm, the Schiavone Construction Co. of Secaucus, N.J., as the talk of "hoodlums" mouthing groundless accusations.
Kelly was interviewed by an FBI agent last week. The agent's report to his superiors was apparently less detailed than Kelly's own account yesterday. But FBI officials said they have no intention of reopening their investigation to check out his claims.
Donovan's nomination is expected to come up for final action on the Senate floor today.
In a rare formal report on the appointment, the Labor Committee's nine Republicans, joined by two Democrats, took the position that all the charges that were scrutinized by the FBI in a crash two-week investigation had "turned out to be a dead end."
The majority contended "we must either cast our lot with the conclusions of the FBI and its executives who directed this massive investigation and Ray Donovan, a decent, honest citizen, or with unnamed 'sources' and a convicted murderer." (Until yesterday, the only identified source of the allegations was Donovan's chief accuser, Ralph Picardo, who became a key government witness at several organized crime trials after his conviction on a murder charge in 1975. The conviction was subsequently overturned.)
"For us, the choice is simple and compelling," the committee majority declared. "We choose Ray Donovan."
The report was aimed at overcoming the misgivings of the other five Democrats on the committee, led by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who have emphasized the volume of the allegations against Donovan and his company, all from informants who have proved "reliable" to the FBI in the past.
Contacted yesterday, Kelly spoke with a reporter under a pseudonymn at first.
Kelly said his conversations with Adonis about Schiavone Construction took place around April or May of 1977 when Adonis told him that a trucking company in which Adonis was a partner was hauling some dirt for Schiavone in the Saddle Brook, N.J. area.
"I was working in an undercover capacity with another trucking company," Kelly said. "At different times we would be talking about getting fill dirt, stuff like that, and it would come up that, well Schiavone had this coming up, and we could use that over there. He [Adonis] said, "We have the inside there, we have the go-ahead.' Verbiage like that. Tough-guy talk."
He said Adonis also told him that Adonis' trucking company "would have last looks at bids and prices" for Schiavone subcontracts.
On another occasion in 1977, Kelly asserted, he and several others involved in a project calling for second-mortgage money were sitting in a Patterson, N.J., lawyer's office when the discussion turned to a paving company that one of the men, named Mike C., had worked for.
"Mike brought up [word] about a investigation the state of New Jersey was conducting in reference to bid-rigging," Kelly recalled. "Mike brought up that it was a good thing he was not brought before the grand jury, that so-and-so company, arranged to take this job, that Schiavone took another, and that such-and-such company took another . . . and that Donovan was at one of the meetings at which the job was parceled out."
Kelly suggested that more details might be available in FBI records reflecting the day-to-day briefings he provided to his FBI handler at the time, but bureau officials yesterday did not appear to be interested in trying to unearth them.