Culture of Corruption

Rep. Jeff Flake to Push Ethics Committee on PMA Probe

Jeff Flake photoRep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will likely bring another resolution before the House of Representatives next week calling on the House Ethics Committee to release more details of the investigation into lawmakers linked to the PMA Group pay-to-play controversy, his office told the NLPC Tuesday.

Rep. Flake has been the lone member of Congress pushing for more information on the investigation since late February, when the Ethics Committee released a brief, 5-page report on its probe of the politicians who obtained earmarks for clients of the now-defunct PMA Group lobbying firm. The D.C.-based PMA shuttered its offices last year after the FBI began investigating allegations that the lobbying group exchanged campaign contributions for earmarks.

Grand Jury Probes Rep. Gregory Meeks’ Sweetheart House Deal

Meeks headshotAccording to the New York Daily News today, a federal grand jury is investigating some of Queens’ most prominent politicians, including Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY). NLPC first exposed Meeks’ involvement with a charity called New Direction that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received it. NLPC also first exposed Meeks’ purchase of a home for far less than it is worth.

In a Complaint to the House Ethics Committee filed on March 19, NLPC asked for an investigation of Meeks’ purchase of the house. The Complaint detailed how a contractor named Robert Gaskin not only built the home for Meeks, but also did work for several other Queens politicians and nonprofits they control. At the same time, Gaskin received numerous contracts on taxpayer-funded projects.

Despite Alaska Scandals, Don Young Wants More Earmarks

Don Young photoUndeterred by his recent ethics troubles, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) defied his House Republican colleagues' ban on earmark requests on Tuesday, posting his appeal for billions of dollars in funding for state and national projects on his website.

For the fiscal year 2011, Young's earmark requests include $1.1 billion for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, $30 million for the Fish and Wildlife Service programs, and $1 million for sea crab research.

Young's earmark requests fly in the face of a recent promise by House Republicans to abstain from all such applications for one year.

Rep. Gregory Meeks Attacks the Wrong Peter Flaherty

Meeks photoIn today’s Queens Chronicle, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) attacked NLPC as “a right-wing, inside-the-Beltway organization with an explicitly stated partisan agenda.” As evidence, Meeks claimed that I  “served as a top advisor to Mitt Romney during his presidential campaign.” The only problem is that Meeks got the wrong Peter Flaherty.

Maybe Meeks should learn how to aim before he fires. Or at least learn how to use Google. The Peter Flaherty who advised Romney is a principal in the Shawmut Group in Boston. He is a former assistant District Attorney in Suffolk County, and served as Vice-President of Walden Media, a film production studio. Flaherty worked as a senior advisor to Mitt Romney while he was governor, and held a senior position in his 2008 presidential campaign. He is also credited with helping to engineer Scott Brown's upset Senate win this year.

Ben Barnes Sued for $5 million by Stanford Receiver

Ben BarnesDemocratic lobbyist and former Texas Lieutenant Gov. Ben Barnes has been slapped with a $5 million lawsuit over lobbying and consulting services he provided to R. Allen Stanford, the indicted financier accused of running a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

The suit was filed on Mar. 15 by Ralph Janvey, the receiver appointed by the court to recoup the investors’ losses. It alleges that Barnes raked in millions doing consulting and lobbying work for Stanford’s fraudulent investment empire since 2005. Stanford is accused of bilking tens of thousands of investors out of nearly $8 billion, in one of the largest phony investment schemes of all time.

NLPC Complaint Alleges Rep. Gregory Meeks Got Sweetheart Deal on Home

Meeks photoOn Friday, NLPC asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) for paying $830,000 for a newly-built home in 2006 that was worth more than $1.2 million. The home was built by Robert Gaskin, a contractor who does work on numerous projects for which Meeks has secured taxpayer funds. Click here to download a 26-page pdf of the Complaint.

Classified a “mansion” by the City of New York, the Queens home has about 6,000 square feet, meaning that Meeks paid $138 per square feet. That price is less than half the cost per square foot for homes in Queens in both 2006 and 2007 according to the Trulia Real Estate Search service.

High-Living Congressman Meeks Blames NLPC for Scrutiny

According to a New York Times story today titled “Congressman Cries Poor, but Lifestyle May Disagree” by Eric Lipton and Ray Hernandez:

Money is so tight, Representative Gregory W. Meeks says, he does not have a savings account with more than a few thousand dollars in it. And yet Mr. Meeks, one of New York City’s most prominent Democrats, lives a life worthy of a jet-setter.

When he travels, he stays in luxury hotels like the Mondrian South Beach in Miami and the Ritz-Carlton in San Juan, P.R. He drives a Lexus, leased by the federal government, at a cost of $1,000 a month. He eats expensive meals at BLT Steak in Washington and Docks Oyster Bar in Manhattan, among other trendy spots.

Later in the Times article, Meeks attacks NLPC:

Doubts Cast on Rep. Meeks’ New Account of Missing Katrina Funds

Meeks Channel 1Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) has offered a second account of what happened to money he helped raise for Hurricane Katrina victims who apparently did not receive the aid. But this latest explanation — that it benefitted Katrina victims who came to New York City — is proving as flimsy as his original.

On New York’s Channel 1, Meeks was actually being interviewed about Rep. Charles Rangel’s downfall when the interviewer shifted gears to questions about the Katrina charity. Meeks has ducked interviews on the topic since NLPC first raised questions on January 31 about a nonprofit called New Direction Local Development Corporation, which sponsored an effort known as New Yorkers Organized to Assist Hurricane Families (NOAH-F). The “charity” is now being investigated by federal prosecutors.

Flaherty: Rangel Denials 'Implausible'

CNN's Anderson Cooper looks at resignation of Rep. Chairman Charles Rangel as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, with Joe Johns reporting. NLPC President Peter Flaherty calls Rangel's claim "implausible" that he did not know of corporate sponsorship of Caribbean junket. Click here to download a 2-page pdf transcript.

Flaherty: Rangel Had to Know of Junket's Corporate Sponsorship

Fox News Channel reports on the House Ethics Committee's admonition of Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel for accepting travel from Citigroup and other corporations. NLPC President Peter Flaherty, who exposed the violation, says Rangel had to be aware of corporate sponsorship. Click here to download one-page pdf transcript.

Syndicate content