Investigators are asking questions about the roles of then-Senate Democratic leaders John Sampson and Malcolm Smith and others who were accused of helping the Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG) land a multibillion-dollar casino contract three years ago, sources said.
Rev. Floyd Flake, a former member of Congress, is a political force in Queens where he is the pastor of a 23,000-member church. His protégés include U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks and state Senator Malcolm Smith, both under a grand jury investigation apparently triggered by NLPC’s expose of a charity called New Direction Local Development Corporation, and Meeks’ sweetheart deal on a home.
According to a story by Russ Buettner in yesterday’s New York Times, Flake and his partners ended up as owners of two eight-story apartment buildings that were “built and subsidized with public money.” In addition, the 300 units were “well maintained by one of the church’s charities.”
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.
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.
No 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."
Well, it didn’t take long. Danny Hakim of the New York Timesreports today:
Three days after awarding a lucrative state contract to a company connected to the Rev. Floyd H. Flake, one of New York’s most influential black pastors, Gov. David A. Paterson summoned Mr. Flake to his Harlem office Monday morning and sounded him out about his political support.
On Friday, New York state awarded a franchise for video gaming machines at Aqueduct racetrack to something called the Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG), which will pay the state hundreds of millions for the opportunity. Making the pitch for AEG was Flake, who while a member of Congress in the nineties, faced serious ethics charges.
Two of Flake’s close associates and protégés are Rep. Gregory Meeks and state Senator Malcolm Smith. As we exposed on Sunday, Meeks and Smith are deeply involved in a nonprofit called the New Direction Local Development Corporation that appears to function as their slush fund.