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:
Mr. Meeks said the attention being focused on his political affairs, including a series of articles recently in The New York Post questioning what happened to money he helped raise that was donated to a Hurricane Katrina charity, was being driven by conservative groups, like the National Legal and Policy Center in Virginia, that are trying to damage the reputation of Democrats.
Ken Boehm, chairman of the center, acknowledged that he had been investigating Mr. Meeks’s finances but disputed that his investigations were directed at only Democrats.
“If he wants to yell and point fingers, we say fine, just answer the facts,” Mr. Boehm said.
The increased scrutiny of Meeks comes in the wake of NLPC’s expose of Meeks’ involvement with a charity called New Direction Local Development Corporation that functions more like a slush fund. New Direction sponsored a Katrina relief fund but no one seems to know what happened to the money.
The questions about New Direction morphed into a larger controversy over the awarding of a lucrative gambling franchise to Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG) by New York Governor David Paterson. AEG’s “investors” included former Rep. Floyd Flake, whose protégés include Meeks and state Senator Malcolm Smith, another “co-founder” of New Direction. Smith’s former partner, a contractor name Darryl Green, was involved in the AEG bid. Greene is a convicted felon who embezzled $500,000 from New York City during the nineties. His wife was a founding director of New Direction.
Meeks has other reasons to be sore at NLPC. He is a close ally of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), who recently stepped down as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee as a result of NLPC’s expose of his corporate-funded trips to the Caribbean. In a recent interview, Meeks called Rangel a “great American” and a “great patriot.”
For the record, NLPC has investigated plenty of Republicans. In 2007, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) sold back land to a developer a day after NLPC alleged in a Complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee that the original sale was a “sweetheart” deal. In 2003, NLPC exposed the Boeing Tanker Deal Scandal, sending to prison Darleen Druyun, a former Bush Defense Department procurement official.