John Sampson Busted; He Also Got Loan From Fraudster Ed Ahmad

John SampsonNew York State Senator John Sampson (D-Brooklyn) was arrested today, charged with embezzelment, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI.

Also, the New York Daily News reports today that the FBI is investigating a $188,500 “loan” to Sampson from Edul Ahmad, the Guyanese-American businessman who pled guilty to charges in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme.

Ahmad also made a $40,000 loan to U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) who failed to disclose it until the FBI reportedly began reviewing his finances, apparently prompted by headlines about a nonprofit called New Direction Local Development Corporation. Among other irregularities exposed by NLPC, New Direction raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received the assistance. 

In December 2012, the House Ethics Committee announced that it could find nothing wrong with the Ahmad loan, even though the Office of Congressional Ethics, a separate entity, found:

…there is a substantial reason

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.

Its role and importance were demonstrated in the Charles Rangel case.  NLPC President Peter Flaherty tagged along on a Caribbean junket in November 2008 to sunny St. Maarten. He snapped photos and made audio recordings evidencing that the event was underwritten by big corporations like Citigroup, in violation of House Rules.  OCE took up the case, produced a detailed report based on Flaherty’s materials, and referred it to the 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.

Baldeo is the third Meeks associate to be face legal action in recent days.

On October 10, Guyanese-American businessman Edul Ahmad pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud as part of a plea bargain related to a multimillion-dollar mortgage …

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.

Rahall, whose net worth is between nearly $2 million to $3 million according to financial disclosure reports, also enjoys a reduced owner-occupied tax rate on his West Virginia home, which cut his state property tax bill in 2012 by $2,874, according to records obtained by the Washington Times.

“Any member taking a D.C. homestead deduction is pulling a fast one,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center. “They just …

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.

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. Meeks’ omission is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Commitee.

On Wednesday, Meeks made little effort to distance himself from the fraudster, releasing a statement that read, in part: “My thoughts and prayers are …

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:

They’re all inaccurate. It’s the New York Post… I’ve never been investigated. I am not under investigation. I’ve never been questioned.

Later in the interview, Meeks renewed his assault on NLPC:

David Price: …I think the concern to a

Rep. Richardson to Face Full Ethics Probe?

Laura Richardson photoThe House Ethics Committee may soon conduct a complete investigation of Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-CA). She has been under investigation for some time now for allegations that her staff undertook political activities while working on government time.

As reported this week by John Bresnahan in Politico, Ethics Committee staff members have been looking into potential Richardson violations since last year. At isssue is whether some of Richardson senior staff pressured subordinates to work on her reelection campaign matters during official time. This is against House rules and federal law.

This is not the first time Richardson has been under Ethics Committee investigation since winning a special election to fill a vacancy in 2007. The Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics committee both investigated a situation in which it appeared Richardson may have had an unethical deal worked out to maintain a home of hers that had gone …

Case of Jesse Jackson, Jr. is Test for House Ethics Commitee

Jesse Jackson Jr. photoLast week, the United States House of Representatives Ethics Committee voted to end its temporary deferral of a case against Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL). The US Justice Department had requested the deferral but has since withdrawn that request. The case had been deferred for over two years.

Jackson, the son of Rev. Jesse Jackson, is in his ninth term in the US House and is under investigation for allegations that he attempted to buy the open US Senate seat that was vacated by President Barack Obama. It has been reported that Jackson’s supporters were willing to raise $1.5 million on behalf of Governor Blagojevich’s re-election campaign.

While Jackson has maintained that he did no wrong, the investigation will continue. According to Associated Press and reported on theGrio.com, Jackson’s office had no comment on the announcement and his attorney was unavailable for comment. In Chicago, the US Attorney’s office had …

Watchdogs Agree: Waters Case Shows Ethics Process is Broken

Maxine Waters photoCarol Leonnig of the Washington Post writes today that the House Ethics Committee is planning to spend $500,000 for an investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and the Committee’s own staff.

Last month, the Committee announced the hiring of Billy Martin to review the actions of the Committee’s staff that were cited as a reason to push the Waters trial beyond last November’s elections. Martin would then proceed to investigate the Waters matter if he determines that the staff’s previous conduct was not sufficiently prejudicial to dismiss the case, as she has requested.

As Leonnig reports:

Ethics watchdogs from both ends of the political spectrum praised the hiring of outside counsel, but they said the move makes clear that Congress is failing to properly police its own and sorely needs a new process.

“If there’s one thing to learn from all this it’s that the ethics system is not

Rep. Wu to Resign After Debt-Ceiling Resolution

David Wu photoRep. David Wu, D-Ore., announced his resignation following accusations that he engaged in an unwanted sexual encounter with a young woman.

Moments after Oregon’s two United States Senators, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, asked the congressman to step down, Wu addressed the House and said his resignation would go into effect after the resolution of the debt-ceiling crisis.

Wu came under fire for allegedly having an “unwanted sexual encounter” with the 18-year-old daughter of a friend over last Thanksgiving. Wu insists that he did nothing illegal with the teenager. The seven-term representative said he would not be running for an eighth term after the allegations came out last week.

Merkley and Wyden released a statement four days after reports on the Wu’s accusations surfaced:

The accusations against David Wu are both jarring and exceptionally serious. … While no one takes pleasure in asking a colleague to resign, we believe he can