Ken Boehm's blog

State Senator Malcolm Smith Busted in Scheme to Rig New York City Mayoral Race

Malcolm SmithDemocratic State Senator Malcolm Smith, a close crony of embattled U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), was arrested by the FBI this morning, along with several Republican party officials. According to various news reports, the arrests result from a scheme to bribe Republican officials to allow Smith to run for New York City mayor as a Republican. Smith is the former president of the State Senate.

From afar, the scheme seems bizarre, but in the context of the endemic graft in New York City, it is not far fetched at all. NLPC has played a key role in exposing a rotten political culture that is corrupt from top to bottom, and spans both parties.

Grand Jury Investigating New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez

Robert MenendezThe Washington Post today reports that a federal grand jury is investigating Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) for pushing a Dominican port security deal that would have meant a windfall for Dr. Salomon Melgen, a major donor. The post security deal was first reported in the New York Times on February 1, based on information provided by NLPC.

Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Peter Wallsten cited unnamed sources for the existence of the grand jury and a related investigation. According to the story:

Sen. Menendez Claims He Didn't Know Ex-Aide Was Part of Port Deal

Menendez photoFrances Robles reports in the New York Times that an ex-aide to Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) stood to benefit from a Dominican port security deal, along with Menendez benefactor Salomon Melgen. From the Times:

Mr. Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, has pushed United States government officials to help enforce a contract that a company owned in part by one of his major donors, Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, has with the Dominican government, which has refused to honor it.

A top executive at Dr. Melgen's security company will be Pedro Pablo Permuy, a former national security adviser and senior legislative aide to Mr. Menendez, according to a cousin of Dr. Melgen. Mr. Permuy's ties to the senator go back at least 20 years.

But Menendez' office told the Times that this is all news to the Senator:

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.

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