Culture of Corruption

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.

Bad Election Day for Lawmakers in Ethics Trouble

Shelley BerkleyEric Lipton of the New York Times had a round up on Friday of the election-day fortunes of members of Congress in ethics trouble.  According to the article:

In races around the country, an unusually large number of lawmakers facing charges of wrongdoing were unceremoniously ousted from their jobs on Tuesday - which is quite rare, because more than 90 percent of the incumbents seeking re-election to Congress typically return for another term.

Rep. Moran is Proof of Failure of Congressional Ethics Regime

James MoranRep. James Moran (D-VA), whose son is seen on an undercover video providing instructions on how to engage in vote fraud, has a long history of ethical problems. The fact that he is still in Congress is confirmation of the ineffectiveness of three bodies tasked with enforcing ethics, the U.S. Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the House Ethics Committee.

Albert Baldeo, Another Meeks Crony, is Arrested

Meeks Baldeo photoAlbert Baldeo, a Democratic Party leader in New York City, was arrested by the FBI this morning on corruption charges. According to the New York Times:

Mr. Baldeo is accused of using phantom donors to funnel illegal campaign contributions to his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for City Council in order to fraudulently increase the amount of matching funds provided by the city, federal prosecutors said.

The phantom donors were first publicly described in a New York Post story of October 11, 2011. The information was provided to the Post by the National Legal and Policy Center as part of our investigation into U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and his political network.

Rahall Tax Exemption Draws Scrutiny

Rahall photooriginally posted on Washington Free Beacon by CJ Ciaramella:

A growing number of watchdog groups are calling for an investigation into alleged ethics violations by Rep. Nick Rahall (D., W. Va.) following a report that he obtained a tax deduction by claiming Washington, D.C., as his primary residence.

Last week the Washington Times reported Rahall applied for and received a homestead tax deduction for his D.C. townhouse, saving him $573 on his annual D.C. property tax bill.

Meeks Crony Edul Ahmad Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Ahmad photoGuyanese-American businessman Edul Ahmad pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of bank and wire fraud as part of a deal with federal prosecutors in New York's Eastern District. Ahmad was indicted on ten counts related to a massive mortgage fraud scheme in August 2011. He will be sentenced in the near future. Sentencing guidelines call for 10 to 13 years in prison.

Tax Cheat Rangel Says Higher Taxes Are 'Paying Your Fair Share'

Rangel Tweet photoThis photo was Tweeted by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) yesterday. Also in the photo is House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Along with the photo, Rangel Tweeted this:

My ears perking up to hear RepCantor saying taxes will go up under Pres Obama. It's called "paying your fair share"!

In 2008 Rangel admitted not paying taxes on rental income from a Dominican Republic beach house after it was exposed by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC). It was one of the counts in his 2010 Censure by the House.

Edul Ahmad Cops Plea?; Crony of Rep. Gregory Meeks

Edul Ahmad photoMeeks photoFederal Prosecutors and lawyers for Guyanese businessman Edul Ahmad (photo, right), who has been indicted in a $50 million dollar mortgage fraud scheme, have apparently reached a plea arrangement that will be made public next month.

Ahmad made a $40,000 payment to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) in 2007 that the Congressman failed to disclose on his Financial Disclosure Reports for 2007, 2008, and 2009. Meeks subsequently claimed the $40,000 payment was a loan, but there were no note or payments until several years after the payment was made. Last year the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate the matter.  The OCE reported that Rep. Meeks "refused to cooperate with the OCE's investigation."

Rep. Meeks Blames NLPC for Ethics Woes

MeeksIn an interview Tuesday on New York City's WNYW-TV, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) denied that he is under investigation by federal authorities, contradicting several previous reports by the New York Times, New York Post and New York Daily News.

The New York Post reported on Saturday that a nonprofit called the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation received subpoenas connected to a broader investigation of Meeks, who has steered millions in federal funds to the group.

As he has done in the past, Meeks attributed his woes to the New York Post and NLPC. Of the most recent reports, he told WNYW-TV reporters David Price and Rosanna Scotto:

NY Times: $900K Flows From 'Mysterious' Donor

New York Times logoThe New York Times has a front-page story today on a political giver named James Robert Williams, who has no visible means of support, but is very generous to both parties and to politicians of different stripes.  From the article:

...one government watchdog group called the pattern of donations extremely troubling. Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, said, "In more than 15 years of investigating political corruption, I've never seen a more suspicious set of facts."

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