Ken Boehm's blog

Sen. Menendez Pushed 'Windfall' for Melgen in Dominican Port Security Deal

Menendez photoEver since the spotlight was placed on Dominican-born eye doctor Salomon Melgen and his large campaign contributions to Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the question for us has been "What has Menendez done for Melgen?"

We believe that we have answer. After an extensive review of publicly available documents that link the two men, the answer relates to unusual actions on behalf of a port security company known as ICSSI.

Ray Hernandez and Frances Robles detail in a New York Times story how Menendez sought to help ICSSI "in ways that could bring the doctor a highly lucrative windfall." From the article:

Boehm Warns About Special Interest Funding of Congressional Travel

Rangel in lounge chairAmanda Becker reports in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call today that outside groups spent $3.6 million to sponsor foreign trips for members of Congress and their staffs in 2012.  The article includes my comments:

"Congressmen are frequently accused of living inside a bubble. So you can make a good case that members should be traveling and getting to see certain things overseas," Boehm said.

"But all too often they have been arranged by groups that have very pronounced legislative interests," he added. "And what's more enticing than having the possibility of talking [to lawmakers] in a relaxed, vacation resort-type setting?"

Meeks Cronies Probed in Aqueduct Bid Rigging Scheme

Meeks photoThe New York Post reports today that federal prosecutors are investigating close associates of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) as part of probe into a possible casino bid-rigging scheme at Aqueduct Racetrack. According to the Post:

Investigators are asking questions about the roles of then-Senate Democratic leaders John Sampson and Malcolm Smith and others who were accused of helping the Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG) land a multibillion-dollar casino contract three years ago, sources said.

Another Meeks Crony Under Investigation

Sampson photoThe New York Post reported today that there is a federal probe of New York State Senator John Sampson, a political ally of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY). Sampson is former Majority Leader of the New York State Senate.

Sources told the Post that the Sampson probe stems from a broader federal investigation of Meeks. Sampson is also linked to convicted mortgage fraudster Edul Ahmad, who is a facing a possible lengthy prison sentence in connection with his guilty plea in a mortgage fraud case. State Senator Sampson performed legal work for Ahmad and has been publicly criticized for notarizing a document for one of Ahmad's employees despite having a lapsed notary license.

CNN Looks at Threats to Office of Congressional Ethics

I was interviewed in a report that aired last night by Scott Bronstein, Joe Johns, and Rahel Solomon of CNN's Special Investigations Unit. The text of this very well done story appears below. One point not made in the report is that without the Office of Congressional Ethics, our exposé of Rep. Charles Rangel's acceptance of corporate-funded Caribbean junkets may have been ignored.

Ethics Committee Can't Find Anything Wrong With Secret Loan From Fraudster to Rep. Gregory Meeks

Meeks photoAhmad photoToday the House Ethics Committee announced that it was taking no action against Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) who secretly took a $40,000 payment from an individual who subsequently pled guilty in a multi-million-dollar mortgage scam.

In 2007, Meeks received $40,000 from a "businessman," Edul Ahmad.  Under the Ethics in Government Act, Congressmen are required to disclose such financial transactions on their annual Financial Disclosure Reports.  Meeks failed to disclose the transaction on his reports for 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Watchdogs Defend Office of Congressional Ethics

OCE door photoOn Wednesday, I took part in a press conference with leaders of other ethics groups to show support for the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which should not be confused with the House Ethics Committee.

OCE was established in 2008 and is slightly more independent that the Ethics Committee because its board is comprised of former members of Congress and private citizens, rather than sitting members. OCE cannot sanction members but can only make referrals to the Ethics Committee.

The Ethics of Forest Certification: When Unintended Consequences Result

forest photo"One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions and not by their results."  — Dr. Milton Friedman

The free market has long been recognized as one of the best methods for consumers to get a wide variety of choices, while at the same time the competition for the consumer dollar incentivizes producers and sellers to offer the best possible value for the price.

Free market advocates have demonstrated that, all too often, interventions in the market such as tariffs, regulations, taxes, and so forth - imposed with the best of intentions - not only rob the consumer of choice but increase the ultimate cost of goods and services.

EXCLUSIVE: Sen. McCaskill's Husband's Businesses Benefitted From $20 Million in Stimulus Funds

McCaskill/Shepard photoAn analysis of public records by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) has found more than $20 million in federal stimulus funds benefitting real estate projects financially tied to Joseph Shepard, husband of Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press published an analysis, stating, "businesses affiliated with the husband of Senator Claire McCaskill have received almost $40 million in federal subsidies for low-income housing developments during her first five years in office..."

The NLPC analysis released today showed more than $20 million in financial benefits from the federal stimulus law to real estate projects associated with McCaskill's husband, with all of the $20 million benefitting projects different than those identified by the Associated Press story.

Albert Baldeo, Another Meeks Crony, is Arrested

Meeks Baldeo photoAlbert Baldeo, a Democratic Party leader in New York City, was arrested by the FBI this morning on corruption charges. According to the New York Times:

Mr. Baldeo is accused of using phantom donors to funnel illegal campaign contributions to his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for City Council in order to fraudulently increase the amount of matching funds provided by the city, federal prosecutors said.

The phantom donors were first publicly described in a New York Post story of October 11, 2011. The information was provided to the Post by the National Legal and Policy Center as part of our investigation into U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and his political network.

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