Culture of Corruption

Senator Robert Menendez Facing Criminal Indictment?

CNN is reporting that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) will be indicted on charges related to favors he provided to his largest campaign contributor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Miami-area eye doctor.

The probe was reportedly initiated after media reports that Menendez intervened on Melgen's behalf with government officials regarding a Medicare billing dispute and a port security deal in the Dominican Republic. Based on information provided by NLPC, the New York Times first reported on February 1, 2013 that Menendez went to bat for the Dominican port security deal that would have resulted in a "highly lucrative windfall" for Melgen.

Harry Reid’s ‘Pay-to-Play’ Green Energy Project

Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon website today details the saga of something called the Clean Energy Project. Founded and staffed by for former aides to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the nonprofit collected donations from corporations which received hundreds of millions in federal grants and loan guarantees at Reid’s urging. From the article:

Their donations to the CEP suggest “a vehicle to promote pay-to-play politics,” says Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group.

“It is run by Reid insiders, funded by those who want Reid’s political favors, and there’s a track record of Reid dispensing favors to those who fund it,” Boehm said in an email. “As the late Senator [Sam] Ervin said, sometimes things are what they look like.”

Ex-New York State Senator Malcolm Convicted of Bribery

Malcolm Smith

Former New York State Senator Malcolm Smith was convicted in federal court last week of bribery, wire fraud and extortion. A former majority leader in the New York Senate, Smith was defeated for re-election in 2014.

Convicted at the same time was Vincent Tabone, a former Queens Republican Party official. Smith, Tabone, and other GOP officials conspired to allow Smith, a liberal Democrat, to run for New York City mayor as a Republican in 2013, in return for $25,000.

Smith is the latest associate of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) to be convicted of crimes. Formal investigations of several New York politicians began in 2010 after the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) exposed corruption through stories in the New York Post, New York Times and New York Daily News.

Rep. Meeks' Crony Albert Baldeo Sentenced to 18 Mos. in Federal Prison

Meeks and BaldeoOn Monday, New York City Democratic leader Albert Baldeo was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. He was convicted of seven counts of obstruction of justice in August of last year.

Baldeo was originally charged with three counts of fraud related to the use of straw donors to qualify for taxpayer matching funds for 2010 for his unsuccessful City Council campaign. The scheme was exposed in a New York Post story of October 11, 2011, based on information provided by the National Legal and Policy Center as part of our investigation into U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and his political network.

Report: Mollohan Should Have Been Indicted

Alan MollohanDocuments obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) from the Department of Justice provide "hard evidence" that former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) should have been prosecuted after NLPC exposed his questionable financial dealings, and triggered a Justice Department investigation.

CREW executive director Melanie Sloan told Politico yesterday, "It was clear the Justice Department should have indicted Mollohan."

Mollohan was defeated for re-election in 2010 in a Democratic primary. His ethics woes were a key issue in the campaign.

Rep. Michael Grimm's Campaign Shakedown Scheme

Gregory Meeks and Michael GrimmToday's New York Post reports that Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), already under indictment, sought out and allegedly accepted campaign contributions in his initial 2010 race for Congress that exceeded contribution limits.

He asked for $10,000 donations from six people, when the legal limit for individual contributions is $2,400. The contributions were not disclosed on Grimm's campaign disclosure forms, evidence that Grimm may have been aware that they were illegal.

From the article by Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein:

Rep. Gregory Meeks (Again) Blames NLPC for Ethics Woes

Guerrilla journalist Jason Mattera recently caught up to Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY) and asked him about his multitude of scandals. In the words of Meeks, "NLPC, baby!"

Meeks Crony Baldeo Convicted of Obstruction of Justice

Meeks and BaldeoNew York City Democratic leader Albert Baldeo was convicted last week of seven counts of obstruction of justice. He was acquitted on three counts of fraud related to the use of straw donors to qualify for taxpayer matching funds for 2010 for his unsuccessful City Council campaign. The scheme was exposed by NLPC and was the subject of a New York Post story on October 11, 2011.

Baldeo is a close associate of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY). The two shared an office from 2006 to 2009. The two have jointly sponsored workshops and programs on immigration and mortgage foreclosure. Meeks even arranged for a Congressional Proclamation in 2009 that called Baldeo a "visionary leader" and thanked him for his community service. See photo.

Meeks Pushed for Iran Sanction Exemption After Azerbaijan Junket

There’s fallout from the July 27 Houston Chronicle exposé of a trip to Azerbaijan by 10 member of the House that violated House rules. The trip was ostensibly sponsored by nonprofit groups but was actually funded by oil companies BP, Conoco Phillips and SOCAR, the national oil company of Azerbaijan. According to the New York Post today:

Rep. Gregory Meeks pushed to let an Iran-backed natural-gas project dodge US sanctions — after attending an illicit junket paid for by energy companies.

Azerbaijan Trip by House Members Broke Rules

Gregory MeeksThe Houston Chronicle yesterday published an account of a 2013 trip by 10 members of the House of Representatives to Azerbaijan that violates a House rule that prohibits the acceptance of overnight travel from corporations that employ lobbyists. The trip was indirectly paid for by companies doing business in Azerbaijan through nonprofit groups.

The fact set is similar to the 2008 case involving a trip to the Caribbean by then-Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), exposed by NLPC, and investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). OCE referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee, which "admonished" Rangel, prompting his resignation as House Ways and Means Chairman. The head of the nonprofit that sponsored the event was eventually convicted of lying to Congress.

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