On 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.
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.
Rep. 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.
Submitted by NLPC Staff on Fri, 03/05/2010 - 00:00
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.
Submitted by NLPC Staff on Sun, 02/28/2010 - 16:56
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.
Just 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:
The 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.
Rep. 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.
You 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.
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.”