The axiom that “all that rises must converge” is upside down in New York State where all that falls is now converging. According to the New York Post, Rep. Charles Rangel’s campaign manager helped incorporate a nonprofit group that was plundered by New York City Councilman Ruben Wills, who was arrested last week. From the article:
Rasheida Smith, a longtime southeast Queens Democratic operative, is listed on the incorporation papers of New York 4 Life, the group that state authorities say Wills looted for more than $30,000 to buy such luxuries as a $750 Louis Vuitton handbag.
The group was the recipient of $33,000 in taxpayer funds in the form of “members items,” the New York equivalent of earmarks, arranged by former Senator Shirley Huntley, who is now incarcerated for stealing $87,000 from another nonprofit group called the Parents Workshop. Wills served as Huntley’s chief of staff at the time.
Smith claimed to the Post that she had no role in the operation of Wills’ group but only filed the initial paperwork, along with that for several other nonprofits. That defense may be more incriminating than it is exculpatory. As NLPC discovered after undertaking a review of groups associated with New York politicians, nonprofits are often used as vehicles for corruption. We undertook the review of after exposing New Direction Local Development Corporation, associated with U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and State Senator Malcolm Smith. Among other irregularities, New Direction raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never saw the money. We exposed Huntley’s group as a result of that review, leading to her arrest.
According to the Post, Rasheida Smith used to work for Malcolm Smith and John Sampson, another State Senator. Both are under indictment on corruption charges, apparently resulting from investigations triggered by NLPC.
Rangel was censured by the full House on December 2010 by a vote of 333-79. NLPC exposed Rangel’s failure to disclose or pay taxes on rental income from a Dominican Republic beach house, which prompted Rangel to amend his disclosures to show hundreds of thousands in previously undisclosed income and assets.
In March 2010, Rangel resigned from his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee after being admonished by the House Ethics Committee for accepting corporate-funded Caribbean junkets, also exposed by NLPC. The Committees action was based on recordings, photographs, and other evidence I gathered on the junket to sunny St. Maarten.
In a way, Rasheida Smith is the perfect campaign manager for Rangel who is seeking re-election to his twenty-third term in the House. In a June 24 primary, Rangel faces Adriano Espaillat, a State Senator, whom he narrowly defeated two years ago.