Culture of Corruption

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.

Ethics Committee Covers Up Massive PMA “Pay to Play” Scheme

Pelosi MurthaJust when you think that the House Ethics Committee might actually be doing its job in the form of the Rangel admonition, it reverts to form on the investigation of the now-defunct lobbying firm PMA that was headed by Paul Magliocchetti.

Indeed, PMA may be the biggest cover-up in the history of the Ethics Committee, which today issued a report clearing the late Rep. John Murtha and Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Norm Dicks (D-WA) and Bill Young (R-FL).

This action was certainly calculated by Nancy Pelosi to protect the late Murtha. It is the strongest evidence to date that earmarking and corruption are still bipartisan enterprises. Republicans cannot attack Pelosi’s toleration of corruption as long as Republican members of the Ethics Committee sign off on a report like this. The Republican members of the Ethics Committee are:

Ethics Committee Nails Charles Rangel on NLPC-Exposed Caribbean Junket

Carib junket photoThe House Ethics Committee has ruled that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel violated the House gift rule by accepting travel to events in the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008.

NLPC was the source of the information on which the Committee acted. I attended the 2008 event in St. Maarten where I took photographs and made audio recordings of the event, demonstrating that it was paid for by Citigroup and other large corporations. These items were provided to the Ethics Committee in May 2009. Click here to download a 4-page pdf of our Complaint.

The Committee characterized its action as a “public admonishment” of Rangel, and is requiring that Rangel repay the cost of the trips. Click here to download a 3-page pdf of the Committee’s statement dated tomorrow.

Rep. Gregory Meeks Blasted Bush Response to Hurricane Katrina

Meeks photoRep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), under scrutiny for raising money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received the aid, harshly criticized the Bush administration response to the storm in 2005.

Meeks, along with 34 other House members, signed a September 7, 2005 letter to then-President Bush calling for the resignation of FEMA Director Michael Brown. The letter characterized the response as “haphazard and amateurish,” and alleged that it cost lives.

Federal prosecutors are now investigating New Direction Local Development Corporation, a nonprofit in which Meeks was deeply involved. On January 31, NLPC first alleged that funds raised for Katrina victims seemed to have disappeared, following our review of IRS returns, the New York state budget, and other documents.

Why Haven’t Obama, Pelosi Jettisoned Rep. Gregory Meeks?

Meeks photoYou would think that Democratic leaders would distance themselves from a member of Congress who has been identified with Ponzi swindler Allen Stanford, not to mention a charity that is now under federal investigation for fraudulently raising money for Hurricane Katrina victims. Nope.

According to one media report:

President Barack Obama of the United States of America has dispatched a five-member delegation of US congressmen led by Representative Gregory Meeks to Zimbabwe.

Earmarks Corrupt NY Politics

New York Post columnist Maureen Callahan today asks what New York state political scandals have in common:

It’s the one question that’s not really been addressed during this dubious week for New York legislators: How is it that so many — from Pedro Espada to Larry Seabrook to Malcolm Smith to Hiram Monserrate — have been able to so blatantly funnel taxpayer money to their own interests? The answer is both shocking and not: Because they can.

“New York has its own brand of mischief that’s more lethal than other states,” says Ken Boehm of the National Legal and Policy Center. “When millions of dollars are being sent to non-existent organizations, clearly there’s a problem.”

Unlike every other state, New York allows legislators to set up their own non-profits and then steer taxpayer money to those same organizations. So, as will happen, many state and city lawmakers have done just that. “Like DC,” Boehm says, “New York allows earmarks cloaked in secrecy.”

Rep. Meeks Can’t Account for Hurricane Katrina Money; Puts Spotlight on Paterson/Flake Aqueduct Gambling Deal

Flood GateNo one knows anything. As NLPC exposed last Sunday, a charity with which Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) is deeply involved, can’t account for funds raised for Hurricane Katrina victims. According to a front-page New York Post story today, Meeks claims the money was used “to help displaced evacuees,” but neither he nor anyone else involved with group can or will say how.

The contoversy over Meeks’ group, called New Direction Local Development Corporation, is fuel for the firestorm surrounding the awarding by New York Governor David Paterson of a lucrative gambling franchise to Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG) in which former Rep. Floyd Flake is an “investor.” Days later, Paterson met with Flake to discuss his support for Paterson’s re-election campaign. According to the Post:

Floyd Flake is extremely valuable to AEG because of his political clout in both Queens and New York state," said Ken Boehm, chairman of National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group. "Now he appears to be dangling his support for the governor until AEG's bid is fully approved."

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