Queens-Politics

Author's details

Name: Queens-Politics
Date registered: September 22, 2011
URL: http://www.queens-politics.com

Latest posts

  1. Messer Steps Aside, Focuses On Renewable Energy — June 9, 2014
  2. Perrianno: Fashion For The Professional Man — May 14, 2014
  3. A Ruben Wills & Shirley Huntley Connection? — May 8, 2014
  4. A timeless tribute to a political activist — May 8, 2014
  5. Weprin Outraises Challenger — May 7, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. The Last Of The Clubhouse Bosses — 4 comments
  2. Who Wears The Crown In Whitestone? — 2 comments
  3. Observer Says Chicken McNuggets Likely To Be Thrown At Republican Pol — 2 comments
  4. Renaissance Of A GOP Political Club — 2 comments
  5. A Night Out With Crime featuring John Haggerty & Eric Ulrich — 2 comments

Author's posts listings

Jun 09 2014

Messer Steps Aside, Focuses On Renewable Energy

John Messer, Queens Campaigner

Messer says Peace I’m out y’all

We have confirmation, the primary for SD16 will be a one-way race: Toby Stavisky vs. S.J Jung.

Defying speculation, in a press release sent this evening, attorney John Messer officially declared he will sit this one out for good.

“Renewable energies, like solar and wind power, have been important to me because they reduce our carbon footprint and help to protect our communities.”

Messer explained that his company, Invictus Energy Solutions, has been on the front lines reducing dependence on foreign oil and carbon-based fuels — a commitment he would to like to see through  to its completion.

“In an effort to improve our air quality, my company is in the process of implementing a significant project to replace these carbon based diesel generators with solar-powered alternatives which will run off the sun’s pure renewable energy. Queens shouldn’t be getting a failing grade for air pollution when every hour the sun beams enough energy onto our planet to satisfy our global energy needs for an entire year. Over the next several years, I want to work with you to bring renewable energies to our community, improve the quality of our air, our failing grade, and the overall health of our community.”

Meanwhile racial politics will still be in play, and in all likelihood Toby Stavisky will still be the victor. After all, she’s the most visible; a staple in the Flushing community and she has the proven ability to trounce her opponents, but like many districts, only a small percentage of the electorate actually show up for critical primaries – and those that do have proven over and over that they favor Toby Stavisky. So with Messer out, the “primary vote” will be safe for Senator Stavisky putting S.J in a perpetual uphill climb: registering new voters and pulling them out on election day, which is not as easy as it sounds epecially when voters doubt a challenger’s ability to trounce an incumbent of this magnitude. Furthermore, Stavisky also has enough clout in many sections of the Asian community to bridge the tribal nature of local politics, a bridge that may prove too long for S.J, even if he has some IDC help along the way.

No word on an endorsement yet.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/06/john-messer-steps-aside-focuses-on-renewable-energy/

May 14 2014

Perrianno: Fashion For The Professional Man

PerriannoLabarca

Perrianno: fashion for the steps of City Hall to the Silver Screen.

Where do legislators and candidates go to look their best? Perrianno Men’s Fashion Concierge.

Appearances are everything,” said owner and lead stylist Perry El, a Queens native and entrepeneur that opened his first startup clothing line in 2012 to “provide exclusive men’s fashion, custom suits and styles to the professional man with a unique and unmistakable appearance,” and as fashion evolved, so did his client base.

perrianno

Owner Perry LaBarca gets a warm welcome from men’s fashion mogul Domenico Vacca.

Following the success of his previous exclusive lines to celebrities and pro athletes, El, a habitué of the fashion circuit, created a new capsule collection for government and political professionals made of modern, sophisticated and stylish wool, cashmere, and silk products which blend a sign of the times portrayed in the Madmen series while reserved enough to maintain its high-end fashion motif without breaking your bank account. Still, it’s a dressier take for legislative duties with luxe statement pocket squares, handsome check suits, light-colored jackets and proper formal wear. The line eschews the lived-in look that is so pervasive in men’s wear, and instead offers custom prints and imported fabrics made for both the podium or a photography studio, and everything in between.


Perry El’s custom designs and concierge services have graced the shoulders of A-List celebrities ranging from Stephen Baldwin and James Gandolfini, to 50 cent and Raekwon–not to mention professional athletes particularly in MMA–his style has been starlit on The Grammys and MTV’s Video Music Awards, even Steve Madden wears his line, but perhaps most interesting (and for our readers) are the upper echelons of City Hall clothed in the latest Perrianno, but try to find out who they are exactly and he’ll remind you of the “code of the neighborhood” emphasizing discretion–adding to the mystery of who’s decked out in the latest Perrianno? Here’s a hint: they stand out.

My goal in developing a menswear collection was based on my frustration with the lack of trends and stale approach of major retailers,” El said about his personalized services. “If you live on the East coast, you can get fitted for the perfect suit for the perfect look with the perfect accessory; everything is one phone call away.”

50centperry

Rapper 50 Cent seen here dressed in Perrianno.

Perry El was born in Flushing, Queens, and his strong fashion sense and unique style techniques started to develop as early as 12 years old. Starting from the ground up without a penny in his pocket, El began saving to invest in a fashion line in his early teens; “A hustle here, a hustle there,” he says, it meant sacrifice and fiscal discipline to build up what would one day become his signature brand.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Through experimentation of swatches, fabrics, patterns and materials, he began to produce men’s garments, shirts, and accessories – at first making them available only to inner circles and A-listers, but in 2013 something clicked: “The reaction from the public was so positive that we decided to make the collection available to everyone,”said El and The Perrianno Concierge Service was born.

perriannoshoesPlain bases and structured textile weaves play a vital role this season balancing an overly drab summer selection from major retailers. Besides the linen sport coats, customers will love the exclusive (and limited edition) range of hand-spun and hand-woven silk hankies which give a new expression to free-spirited fashion. Be it casual or formal, City Hall or 5th Avenue, Perry El has scouted the best the world has to offer and brought it to customers with a personalized approach to make you look the best season after season.

Instagram

Twitter

perriannostephenbaldwin

Actor Stephen Baldwin (left) in Tapestry (2014) wearing a Perrianno exlusive.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/05/perrianno-fashion-for-the-professional-man/

May 08 2014

A Ruben Wills & Shirley Huntley Connection?

Has Shirley been snitching again? Or is it just coincidence?

True News Exclusive 
Shirley Huntley was rewarded Thursday for her work as a government snitch and got out of jail. One day after her former chief of staff Councilman Ruben Wills is arrested.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/05/a-ruben-wills-shirley-huntley-connection/

May 08 2014

A timeless tribute to a political activist

NEQRC will honor the loss of their beloved Board member & Sergeant at Arms, Rabbi Pomerantz.

NEQRC will honor the loss of their beloved Board member & Sergeant at Arms, Rabbi Morton H. Pomerantz with trees planted in Israel.

In memoriam.

For many, Rabbi Morton Pomerantz was a quiet man, but when he spoke people listened. His activism helped steer the debate of republican politics for the past 40 years and gave strength to one of the most active republican political clubs in Queens.

“He spoke rarely, kindly and quietly with great wisdom and gentleness. That made everyone listen closely to him. It’s a rare gift in public discourse these days,” said Kevin Ryan, President of the Northeast Queens Republican Club.

Pomerantz, a Navy veteran who lived in Douglaston, had a long history of supporting conservative politics with particular emphasis on veteran’s rights. A lifelong Democrat, Pomerantz later switched to the GOP after becoming disenfranchised with the Carter administration’s handling of Israel. Since then he’s been a fixture in political circles, supporting many republican campaigns including U.S. Rep. Peter King, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New York Gov. George Pataki, and former Sen. Alphonse D’Amato.

In honor of Rabbi Pomerantz, a longtime board member and Sgt-at-Arms for the NEQRC, club members came together to arrange a ring of 5 trees to be planted in his honor at his birthplace in Israel.

“As a Rabbi and as a Republican club officer, his faith was a vital part of his life. So, a family of trees growing in Israel, strong and quiet and making the atmosphere a little better – like he did – seemed like a fitting, if very modest, tribute to our friend and executive board member,” according to Ryan.

Club members felt the Rabbi should have a fitting tribute, yet still felt any memorial would fall short of recognizing the lives he touched throughout his travels in politics and in the civic community.

‘It’s nothing compared to the many lives Rabbi Pomerantz touched in so many different ways throughout his life. We will miss him,” said Ryan.

Rabbi Pomerantz was 76, and passed away May 2nd at Winthrop Hospital in Mineola after a short illness.

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The services for Rabbi Morton Pomerantz are this Thursday,
May 8th at 11AM at:
Riverside-Nassau North Chapels
55 North Station Plaza
Great Neck, NY
(516) 487-9600
2 blocks east of the Great Neck LIRR station house.
Burial to follow with military honors at
Calverton National Cemetery, L.I.E. Exit 68

 

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/05/a-timeless-tribute-to-a-political-activist/

May 07 2014

Weprin Outraises Challenger

188.saulweprin

Name recognition, you either have it or you don’t.

Ali Najmi, a community activist and political organizer that worked for Councilman Weprin, gears up to primary his brother, Assemblyman David Weprin. Sure it makes this race a little more curious but does Najmi have a realistic shot? No. Even with a growing Muslim population in that district? No, not as long as they have 188th St. (not to mention $220,000 and it’s only May).

[From Capital New YorkAssemblyman David Weprin raised $75,000 at a birthday fund-raiser in Manhattan last week, leaving him with $220,000 cash on hand as he faces a potential primary challenge. 

Attendees at Weprin’s birthday party included Public Advocate Letitia James, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (who spoke about Weprin’s expertise on financial matters), Rep. Joe Crowley, chairman of the Queens County Democratic Organization, and Queens borough president Melinda Katz, who served with Weprin in the Council before running in a crowded primary against him for City Comptroller in 2009.

The potential challenger, Ali Najmi, is a lawyer and political operative who was the president of Weprin’s local political club and once worked for his brother.

Najmi is also a founding member of the Muslim Democratic Club, which determined in an analysis last year that the largest cluster of Muslim voters live in that eastern section of Queens.

Full article: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2014/05/8544934/weprin-raises-against-familiar-challenger

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/05/david-weprin-outraises-challenger/

May 07 2014

Ruben Wills In Hot Water

Photo: NYDN

Photo: NYDN

Councilman Ruben Wills was arrested this morning as part of an ongoing corruption probe.

[From The Observer] Queens City Councilman Ruben Wills was arrested early this morning by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, a law enforcement source has confirmed.

Mr. Wills, along with a relative, Jelani Mills, were taken into custody this morning at around 7 a.m., according to the source, who said that Mr. Mills worked for Mr. Wills.

The source declined to discuss the charges against the the men, but the Daily News reported in 2012 that Mr. Schneiderman’s office was investigating a $33,000 state grant that allegedly went missing after being doled out to a nonprofit linked to Mr. Wills, who will be arraigned in Queens criminal court later today.

Mr. Wills’ attorney did not immediately respond to messages, and phones at the councilman’s legislative and district offices rang unanswered this morning. A spokeswoman for Mr. Wills declined to comment, except to say that Mr. Mills does not work for her boss. A council spokesman confirmed that Mr. Mills is not on the city council payroll.

Full story:  http://observer.com/2014/05/councilman-ruben-wills-arrested-by-attorney-generals-office/#ixzz3138cE6Gn

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/05/councilman-ruben-wills-in-hot-water/

Video

Michael Grimm ‘Selfie’ Parody

From the folks at #FlipNY11

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/05/congressman-grimm-parody/

May 06 2014

A PAC Recharges To Takeout Michael Grimm

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 3.42.49 AM

Expect a lot of Congressman Grimm memes.

A double dose of trouble for Grimm’s reelection campaign is growing in his own backyard.

By now you’ve all heard of the Michael Grimm fiasco: his arrest, the sordid details, etc. etc. But while he still has yet to have his day in court, what you may not have heard of are the faces behind a growing movement to oust Congressman Grimm once and for all.

“He just doesn’t flip-flop, he flounders!” declared Dylan Michael Schwartz, the new Executive Director of Your Vote Counts, a recently reorganized Staten Island-based political action committee working to mobilize voters to “Flip the district” by electing democratic Councilman Domenic Recchia.

The strategy, according to Schwartz, will focus on exposing Grimm’s “utter disrespect for the people of Staten Island.” For example, “To tout like he helped with the Sandy Recovery is abhorrent; he voted against it twice…his own bill….and now the people want to know why he’s holding their lives and future in the air while he’s up in Congress supposed to be helping the people of Brooklyn and Staten Island!”

Utilizing the power of independent expenditures, the PAC will work to “expose Congressman Grimm’s flip-flopping on women’s issues, the environment, and labor,” according to Schwartz. Mediums will include direct mail, print and social media, web casts, even television ads.

Members of the YLA with Dylan Schwartz (center) and Public Advocate Letitia James (center right) at the Democratic Organization of Richmond County's Annual Dinner.

Members of the YLA with Dylan Schwartz (center) and Public Advocate Letitia James (center right) at the Democratic Organization of Richmond County’s Annual Dinner.

Young people are also getting involved, perhaps even for the first time. Motivated by recent headlines, Schwartz spearheaded The Young Leaders Academy, or more precisely, the Democratic Organization of Richmond County’s campaign training program. This unique program attracted the interest of dozens of volunteer high schoolers and college students primarily from Staten Island ready to mobilize their apathetic peers. The curriculum is quite comprehensive; taught by a hodgepodge of veteran operatives and campaign professionals who donate their experience via lectures, webcasts, and grassroots campaigning exercises – all in an effort to raise future leaders equipped with skills in fundraising, community organizing, communications, and legislative action. 

With Grimm winning reelection in 2012 by just 5%, a mobilized youth vote might just be the nail in his coffin.

In addition to renewing the PAC and spearheading the YLA, Schwartz -himself a native Staten Islander- is no stranger to political activism. His pedigree includes organizing campaigns ranging from Florida – where he was named one of the top 10 field organizers for President Obama’s reelection campaign – to NYC serving as Deputy Campaign manager for Peter Vallone Jr’s. bid for Queens Borough President. 

While the PAC has been rather quiet in recent history, Grimm’s racy headlines have been the boost of energy needed to renew interest, said Schwartz, aided in part by a bit on Bill Maher’s Flip-a-District campaign which made national headlines. And while it’s an uphill battle facing a heavily entrenched foe, outreach efforts will give Staten Island and Brooklyn voters – both old and new – food for thought the next time they go to the polls: ranging from alleged campaign finance fraud; to Grimm’s threatening of a reporter with physical violence; to his latest federal fraud and tax charges, he is quite a colorful character with a very colorful history just begging to be lampooned.

The difference this time around, is that the opposition will be raised here at home to tip the balance, said Schwartz. This sentiment seems to be growing and it looks like he won’t be alone as some consider Grimm’s ouster small potatoes on the national scale, even sounding very open to seeing him replaced.

“Mikey is not that important, he is no threat to the power structure, he is a slick talker with a nice resume who seems to be in trouble. he was not on track for greatness as a national leader, not on track to upset the national scene,” wrote State Senator Diane Savino, a member of the Republican led Independent Conference whose district includes parts of Staten Island.

The renewed PAC, will help build on this momentum and at the very least, put some much-needed money behind their message of a worthy alternative.

Stay tuned for the latest.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/05/renewed-pac-ready-to-replace-congressman-michael-grimm/

Image

Photo of the day: Mayor Vincent R. Impellitteri Casts His Ballot

Mayor Candidate Vincent Impellitteri and Wife at Polls Source: Bettmann/CORBIS

Pictured here voting with his wife, in 1950 Mayor Vincent Impellitteri, the 99th Mayor of NYC, was dumped by Democratic bosses and ran on his own ballot line, The Experience Party. Undaunted, Mr. Impellitteri made history becoming the first mayor of greater New York elected without the support of a major party. A true insurgent.           Source: Corbis

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/03/photo-of-the-day-mayor-vincent-r-impellitteri/

Mar 26 2014

FBI Raids Queens Assemblyman’s Home & Office

scarborough

Otisville is nice this time of year.

He’s ‘stunned’.

A relatively low-key state Assemblyman, Bill Scarborough, was visited by the G-Men this morning in an ongoing federal corruption sting.

[From The Queens Courier] The home and office of southeast Queens Assemblyman Bill Scarborough were raided by the FBI Wednesday morning, according to published reports.

Scarborough’s Albany office and Queens home were searched as part of an investigation into his travel reimbursements, the New York Post reported.
His district office and an Albany hotel room were also searched, according to the Daily News.

Scarborough, who served in the legislature for more than 20 years, told reporters that officials from the FBI and the office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman seized his cell phone, calendars and “just about everything,” another report said.

“I’m innocent, but I understand the reality,” Scarborough said to a group of reporters, according to Capital New York. “I don’t know what’s going to go on. I am going to talk to a lawyer. This is just stunning to me.”

For full article: http://queenscourier.com/2014/fbi-raids-assemblyman-scarboroughs-home-office-reports/

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/03/fbi-raids-queens-assemblymans-home-office/

Mar 26 2014

Corrupt Ex-Pol Now Doing Time In New York

mclaughlin

Originally doing time in Butner, N.C, Brian McLaughlin is now finishing his sentence close to home in Otisville Federal Correction Institute in Orange County, NY.

Welcome to Club Fed.

Brian McLaughlin, the former Assemblyman from Queens that embezzled millions of dollars from unions, taxpayers, even a Little League, was seen walking yet again in the Empire State. No, he wasn’t at an Irish pub, or a City Councilmember’s office; he was seen in Otisville Federal Correctional Institute walking around the track.

According to sources he was wearing sneakers and a track suit.

Over at Otisville, it’s like Club Fed. At this medium security prison in Orange County, just 70 miles from NYC, McLaughlin was likely to dine and scheme with other notable celeb-criminals like “Kenneth Starr, the former financial adviser that pled guilty in 2010 to fraud and money laundering for diverting $33 million of his clients’ money to pay for personal expenses or Walter Forbes, former Chairman of Cendant Corporation convicted in 2007 of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements for masterminding the largest accounting fraud of the 1990s.”

Gordon Gecko even did his time here. Otisville has a few notable pop culture references; in the remake of Wall Street, Gordon Gecko mentions Otisville as the prison he was released from, George Jung, the drug kingpin and basis for the movie, Blow, also served time at Otisville as well as Monty Brogan, the main character in the 25th Hour played by Edward Norton, who was sentenced to seven years at Otisville FCI.

These skills might come in handy.

Serving a 10-year sentence, McLaughlin, now 62, will be released in 2016 (and so will Kenneth Starr). However, once he’s out he’ll have figure out how to pay 10 percent of his gross earnings to cover the more than $2 million he owes to the victims of his crimes, according to the Post. He’s even had to sell his lavish home in Long Island’s North Shore as well as his wife’s Mercedes to cover ongoing costs.

Luckily McLaughlin’s era in politics is over, and anything he’s had his had hands in has been reborn  and purged from his corruption. McLaughlin didn’t go out with dignity neither, he provided testimony against his colleagues in government, particularly former Assemblyman Tony Seminerio, who died in federal prison.

McLaughlin’s legacy, however, will never recover.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/03/corrupt-ex-pol-now-doing-time-in-new-york-brian/

Mar 26 2014

Bernadette Semple: The Makings of a Congresswoman

 

semple

Bernadette Semple has the makings of a Congresswoman.

Top Secret.

For those of you following the race to replace state Sen. Malcolm Smith you probably heard of Queens native, Bernadette Semple, but chances are you haven’t heard of her in politics until recently, but that’s just part of what makes her stand out from the crowd, except not for the office the Daily News claims she’s running for.

Semple, a Navy Veteran, comes to the political gates as an outsider, but what she lacks in traditional political experience, her 16 year record of service to the country more than makes up for it.

She’s definitely not your average veteran.

From serving in the Horn of Africa to Operation Enduring Freedom, where she directed a 136-member team composed of both civilian and military personnel as chief Security Officer, her accolades are many, include handling multi-million dollar budgets on the front lines against cyber terrorism while gaining invaluable experience with intergovernmental relations. 

She knows her way around DC. 

Semple’s credentials for federal office become even more clear when considering that she was approved for Top Secret Security clearance — the highest clearance determined by the US Government that a person is eligible for access to classified information.

Simply stated: Even the government trusts Bernadette Semple. So when the Daily News ran a story proclaiming that she’s running for state Senate to replace Malcolm Smith, we couldn’t help but feel what a loss for Congress! Or is it?

Currently, Semple is a Fellow at the Cyber Security Forum Initiative, a non-profit organization with a mission “to provide Cyber Warfare awareness, guidance, and security solutions through collaboration, education, volunteer work, and training to assist the US Government, US Military, Commercial Interests, and International Partners.” In other words, she’s a cyber security expert, so while the country is constantly under cyber attack (literally everyday), she’s been busy safeguarding the nation from cyber terrorists while Congressman Meeks chatted with the late Hugo Chavez.

One thing is certain, and we’re not talking about chances of victory, but rather mentioning that the level of absolute trust the feds place in Semple would be a great starting point for a candidate looking to restore integrity to an office seriously tainted by the misconduct of Congressman Meeks.

See:

Congressman Meeks advocated for bin Laden ally

Records show Rep. Gregory Meeks took six Carribean trips with wife – on the tab of con artist

Rep. Gregory Meeks Investigated Over $40,000 ‘Gift’

however,

Rep. Gregory Meeks cleared in House Ethics Committee loan probe

but,

Pol’s ‘crooked’ pals

More to follow.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/03/bernadette-semple-a-great-candidate/

Mar 26 2014

Meet The Most Corrupt Congressman, possibly ever

Congressman Meeks could be replaced. Insiders say he was on his way out the door anyway.

WIll he retain the title in 2014?

In 2013, Rep. Gregory Meeks, the crooked legislator from South Queens, was named as “one of the most corrupt members of Congress” for the second year in a row, but now curious minds are beginning to wonder will he retain the title this year?

The nine-term member of Congress from NY’s 5th Congressional District was slammed by a report issued by CREW, The Citizens For Responsibility And Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit organization ”dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests.”

The damning indictment is divided into three annotated cases including:

 

  1. accepting improper gifts and loans
  2. his involvement with charities under federal investigation
  3. his actions on behalf of convicted banker and campaign donor R. Allen Stanford.

“Although he has competition, Rep. Meeks may find himself the next member of Congress to be indicted,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.

Through extensive research, litigation, policy advocacy, and media outreach, CREW married in-depth investigation with hard-charging legal action, to employ the law as a tool to force officials to act ethically and lawfully and to bring unethical conduct to the public’s attention, according to their website.

The report can be viewed in full below:

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 5.34.52 AM

 

REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS

Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY) is a nine-term member of Congress, representing New York’s 5th congressional district. His ethics issues stem from: (1) accepting improper gifts and loans; (2) his involvement with charities under federal investigation; and (3) his actions on behalf of convicted banker and campaign donor R. Allen Stanford. He was included in CREW’s 2011 and 2012 reports on congressional corruption for related matters.1

Improper Gifts and Loans

In 2006, Rep. Meeks paid $830,000 for a two-story house in the St. Albans neighborhood of Queens, New York.2 In January 2007, only a few months after the purchase, the city listed the market value of the house as $1,239,000.3 The home was designed by Robert Gaskin, a campaign contributor to the congressman who has also worked on projects for which Rep. Meeks has obtained federal funds.4 It was built on land owned by another Meeks contributor, real estate developer Richard Dennis.5 Both Mr. Dennis and Rep. Meeks claimed Rep. Meeks had not received a sweetheart deal on the house, but an independent appraiser hired by the New York Times found the value of the house to be more than $1 million at the time Rep. Meeks bought it.6 At $830,000, anyway you slice it, it was substantially below market,” the appraiser said.7 He appears to have gotten a very, very good deal.”8

In addition, on June 18, 2010, Rep. Meeks admitted that over three years he had obtained two loans totaling $55,000 but had failed to report them on his personal financial disclosure forms.9 Rep. Meeks said he obtained a $40,000 loan in 2007, which he had since repaid, and

1 For more information, see CREW’s Most Corrupt 2011, available at http://www.crewsmostcorrupt.org/mostcorrupt/entry/most-corrupt-report-2011, and CREW’s Most Corrupt 2012, available at http://www.crewsmostcorrupt.org/mostcorrupt/entry/most-corrupt-members-of-congress-report-2012. 2 Complaint filed with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct by the National Legal and Policy Center, March 19, 2010 (National Legal and Policy Center Complaint); Eric Lipton and Raymond Hernandez, Congressman Cries Poor, But Lifestyle May Disagree, New York Times, March 20, 2010. The National Legal and Policy Center, a watchdog group, also raised questions about the sale of Rep. Meeks’ former home in Far Rockaway, Queens. The NLPC alleges that Rep. Meeks sold that home at an inflated price to unqualified buyers represented by Alexander Kaplan, a Brooklyn real estate attorney who was subsequently convicted of a multi- million-dollar mortgage fraud scheme. For more information, see http://nlpc.org/stories/2012/01/10/nlpc-asks-feds- investigate-meeks-house-sale. 3 National Legal and Policy Center Complaint. 4 Id. 5 Id. 6 Lipton and Hernandez, New York Times, Mar. 20, 2010. 7 Id. 8 Id. 9 Benjamin Lesser and Greg B. Smith, Congressman Meeks Failed to Disclose Hidden Loans; Queens Pol Borrowed More than $50 G, New York Daily News, June 20, 2010.

that he received a $15,000 loan in 2008, which he was still repaying.10 Notably, Rep. Meeks failed to include information about any loans on his 2007 and 2008 personal financial disclosure reports, but called the lapses an “oversight.”11

According to his 2009 personal financial disclosures, in 2008 Rep. Meeks took a loan for $15,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union.12 On the same form, Rep. Meeks also revealed a debt of $50,000 to $100,000 owed to Queens businessman Edul Ahmad, evidently the first disclosure of the 2007 loan and accrued interest.13 Rep. Meeks admitted he had not sought permission from the House Ethics Committee (then known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct) before accepting the loan from Mr. Ahmad.14

Apparently, Rep. Meeks received a check for $40,000 from Mr. Ahmad in January 2007 to help with costs associated with his new $830,000 home.15 Rep. Meeks received the money without any discussion of interest rates, due dates, or collateral requirements for the loan.16 Further, Rep. Meeks made no payments on the loan until June 2010, after the FBI questioned Mr. Ahmad about the money.17 At that point, Rep. Meeks apparently took out a home equity loan for $59,650.18 He then sent Mr. Ahmad a check for $59,684, representing the $40,000 plus an annual interest rate of 12.5 percent.19 In a July 2010 statement regarding the omission of the loans from his personal financial disclosure forms, Rep. Meeks said that when he borrowed the money from Mr. Ahmad in 2007, “interest rates were as high as they have been in nearly a decade. Today, interest rates are as low as they have been since the 1950s. When I saw this, there was no question that it made financial sense to pay back the loan from Ed Ahmad and replace it with a lower interest rate loan secured by my home, which is exactly what I did during the same week that I filed my current and amended financial disclosure statement.”20

Rep. Meeks admitted he had no documents to back up the loan from Mr. Ahmad, but said it was due within 10 years.21 He later told the House Ethics Committee the loan interest rate and

10 Id. 11 Greg B. Smith, Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks: $55G in Undisclosed Loans An ‘Oversight’, New York Daily News, June 21, 2010. 12 Rep. Gregory Meeks, Calendar Year 2009 Financial Disclosure Statement, filed June 16, 2010; Rep. Gregory Meeks, Multi-Year Personal Financial Disclosure Amendment, filed November 17, 2010. 13 Id.; Rep. Gregory Meeks, Calendar Year 2009 Financial Disclosure Statement, filed June 16, 2010; Greg B. Smith, FBI Looks Into Secret $40,000 Personal Loan to Queens Pol Gregory Meeks, New York Daily News, July 8, 2010. 14 Smith, New York Daily News, July 8, 2010. 15 Id. 16 Id. 17 Id.; In July 2011, the FBI arrested Mr. Ahmad on apparently unrelated mortgage fraud charges and, in October 2012, Mr. Ahmad pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled. See United States v. Edul Ahmad, 1:11-mj-00755-jo (E.D.N.Y. 2011). 18 Complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, July 13, 2010, Exhibit F, Short Form Subordinated Third Mortgage, dated June 18, 2010, filed with the Office of the City Register of the City of New York, June 22, 2010. 19 Smith, New York Daily News, July 8, 2010; Office of Congressional Ethics, 112th Congress, Report and Findings Related to Rep. Gregory Meeks, Review No. 11-1048, April 29, 2011 (OCE Report and Findings). 20 OCE Report and Findings, Exhibit 11, Press Release from Representative Gregory Meeks, July 9, 2010. 21 Smith, New York Daily News, July 8, 2010.

repayment schedule was put in writing, but he misplaced the documents.22 Mr. Ahmad’s lawyer, however, told the House Ethics Committee that the loan had no fixed interest rate, and Rep. Meeks did not sign any loan documents.23 Rep. Meeks described the loan as “for my family obligations, etc. I was in a new house. It’s taking care of things for my family needs in the house [sic].”24 Rep. Meeks continued, “You need to make sure the house is furnished. You need things.”25

The $59,650 home equity loan Rep. Meeks took out to repay the $40,000 was borrowed from Four Investments, an investment firm owned by Dennis Mehiel, another New York businessman and a longtime Democratic donor.26 Although Mr. Mehiel has not commented on the loan, in February 2010 he said, “I’m a longtime personal friend or acquaintance of virtually every Democratic member of Congress from New York.”27 Mr. Mehiel and his wife, Karen Mehiel, donated a combined $9,600 to Rep. Meeks during the 2010 election cycle, the maximum allowable.28

During an interview with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), Mr. Mehiel said Rep. Meeks had met with him in June 2010 and asked him for a loan in order to pay back an existing $40,000 loan from another individual, whom Rep. Meeks did not identify.29 Rep. Meeks also requested money to pay interest on the earlier loan.30 Mr. Mehiel spoke with Rep. Meeks’ lawyers regarding loan terms, and told OCE Rep. Meeks’ lawyers wanted to complete the loan immediately because a House financial disclosure form was due.31 In addition, Mr. Mehiel reported Rep. Meeks’ lawyers “felt compelled to pay the [original lender] a high interest rate so the [sic] Rep. Meeks would not be seen as getting a benefit.”32 Four Investments had never made any similar loans previously and Mr. Mehiel said the company would not make any in the future, but he made an exception for Rep. Meeks, whom he described as a friend.33 Mr. Mehiel said he did not want to appear to be offering Rep. Meeks a special deal, so he required Rep. Meeks to provide collateral and set a 7.3 percent interest rate payable quarterly after seeing the rate listed in the newspaper as a standard rate for such loans.34

22 House Committee on Ethics, 112th Congress, Report: In the Matter of Allegations Relating to Representative Gregory Meeks, December 20, 2012, at 4. 23 Id. at 5. 24 Smith, New York Daily News, July 8, 2010.

25 Id. 26 Benjamin Lesser and Robert Gearty, Queens Pol Gregory Meeks Taps Democratic Fundraiser to Help Pay Back $40,000 Owed to Businessman, New York Daily News, July 9, 2010. 27 Id.; Raymond Hernandez, Enviable Access Given Top 10 Donors to New York Lawmakers, New York Times, February 11, 2010. 28 Lesser and Gearty, New York Daily News, July 9, 2010; Center for Responsive Politics, Donor Lookup, Mehiel, 2009-2010. 29 OCE Report and Findings, Exhibit 3, Memorandum of Interview, Managing Member, 4M Investments, LLC, March 14, 2011. The OCE report did not identify Mr. Mehiel by name, instead referring to the “Chairman of U.S. Corrugated, Inc. and Managing Member of 4M Investments, LLC.” Mr. Mehiel, however, is the owner of 4M Investments, and is also the chairman of U.S. Corrugated, Inc. See http://www.uscorr.com/about-us/leadership- team/dennis-mehiel/. 30 OCE Report and Findings, at 8. 31 Id., Exhibit 3. 32 Id. 33 Id. 34 OCE Report and Findings, at 8.

Discounted Office Rent

From 2002 until 2004, Rep. Meeks maintained a district office in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of Queens.35 His office was in a building owned by Albert Baldeo, a Queens immigration lawyer.36 In January 2013, Mr. Baldeo told the New York Post he had offered the congressman discounted rent during this period because he wanted Rep. Meeks to establish an office in Richmond Hill.37

House disbursement records show Rep. Meeks paid $1,450 per month in rent for the Richmond Hill office from January 1, 2002 until September 2003, when the rent rose to $2,220 per month.38 In addition, Rep. Meeks’ office reported a one-time $6,000 rent payment to Mr. Baldeo on August 31, 2003.39 Mr. Baldeo later said Rep. Meeks had increased the size of his office, requiring him to charge additional rent, and the $6,000 was a retroactive payment of the difference.40

Federal Probe into Dealings with Nonprofit Groups

Rep. Meeks and some of his closest political allies in New York, including Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith and former Rep. Floyd Flake (D-NY), his predecessor in Congress, are the subject of a federal probe into their dealings with several nonprofit groups.41 According to press reports, investigators are looking into whether Rep. Meeks and the others used the groups to “benefit themselves, their families, and their friends.”42 In April 2013, Sen. Smith was charged with wire fraud and bribery for attempting to bribe state Republican party officials in exchange for a spot on the party’s mayoral ballot.43 Sen. Smith pled not guilty.44

35 Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein, Pol’s ‘Crooked’ Pals, New York Post, January 20, 2013. 36 Id. In October 2012, Mr. Baldeo was arrested in connection with a straw donor scheme tied to his unsuccessful 2010 bid for New York City Council. The case is pending. See United States v. Albert Baldeo, 1:13-cr-00125-PAC (S.D.N.Y. 2012). 37 Vincent and Klein, New York Post, Jan. 20, 2013. 38 Committee on House Administration, 107th Congress, Statement of Disbursements of the House from January 1, 2002 to March 31, 2002, Document No. 107-201, Vol. 2, at 1822-23, April 18, 2002; Committee on House Administration, 108th Congress, Statement of Disbursements of the House from July 1, 2003 to September 30, 2003, Document No. 108-132, Vol. 2, at 1729-30, October 1, 2003. 39 Id. at 1730. 40 Vincent and Klein, New York Post, Jan. 20, 2013. 41 Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein, Feds’ Probe of Meeks Taking Sidetrack to Jamaica Biz Group, New York Post, April 18, 2010; Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein, Hide and Meeks – Shady Charities, Odd Financial Disclosures, Love of Junkets Dog Queens Congressman, New York Post, March 21, 2010; Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein, Pols Pushed $$ Into Their Do-Nothing Qns. Charity, New York Post, February 2, 2010; http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/malcolm-smith; http://www.legistorm.com/person/bio/127679 /Floyd_Harold_Flake.html 42 Kenneth Lovett, Barbara Ross, and Greg B. Smith, Federal Grand Jury Probes Real Estate and Nonprofit Deals for Malcolm Smith, Other Queens Pols, New York Daily News, April 2, 2010. 43 United States v. Smith et al., 7:13-cr-00297-KMK (S.D.N.Y. 2013), Michael Wilson and William K. Rashbaum, Lawmakers in New York Tied to Bribery Plot in Mayor Race, New York Times, April 2, 2013; Colin Moynihan, Lawmakers Plead Not Guilty to Charges in Bribery Scheme, New York Times, April 23, 2013. 44 Id.

Hurricane Katrina Charity

In 2001, Rep. Meeks and state Sen. Smith co-founded a New York nonprofit called New Direction Local Development Corp.45 From 2002 to 2008, New Direction’s address was the office of Joan Flowers, a former campaign treasurer for both Rep. Meeks and Sen. Smith. 46 Ms. Flowers also worked as counsel to Sen. Smith, but was asked to resign in March 2010, as reports of the federal probe surfaced.47 Sen. Smith helped direct state funding to the group, and Rep. Meeks helped it secure other contributions, including a $250,000 contribution from International Airport Centers, the developer of a cargo center near JFK Airport.48 New Direction displayed a picture of Rep. Meeks on its website.49

In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Direction began collecting money for New Yorkers Organized to Assist Hurricane Families, a special fund for Hurricane Katrina victims.50 The New Direction website said it planned to raise $270,000 for hurricane evacuees, and directed donations to the offices of Rep. Meeks, Sen. Smith, and Democratic New York Assemblywoman Barbara Clark.51 Rep. Meeks said all money raised for the fund would go to victims, and none would be used for administrative costs.52 Rep. Meeks’ congressional campaign contributed $10,000 to the fund in 2005, though $5,000 appears to have been refunded to the campaign in 2006.53 Additionally, Assemblywoman Clark said she helped set up a gospel concert that raised $11,210, and that money was turned over to Rep. Meeks to benefit the fund.54

Nonetheless, according to New Direction’s tax returns, the only money spent on 55 Hurricane Katrina-related giving was $1,392 paid out in 2006 for hurricane victim expenses. According to press reports, the charity has not accounted for the rest of the money.56 Rep. Meeks initially issued a statement saying “the funds were utilized to help sustain displaced evacuees,” but did not provide details.57 A few days later, in February 2010, amid press reports of an investigation into the charity by the U.S. Attorney’s office, Rep. Meeks said he was not responsible for day-to-day operations at the charity and did not know what had become of the money.58

45 Ken Boehm, Rep. Gregory Meeks’ Charity Looks More Like Slush Fund, National Legal and Policy Center, January 31, 2010. 46 Id. 47 Lovett, Ross, and Smith, New York Daily News, Apr. 2, 2010.

48 Boehm, National Legal and Policy Center, Jan. 31, 2010; Editorial, Floyd Flake’s Friends, New York Post, February 2, 2010. 49 Melissa Klein and Isabel Vincent, Queens Pols Stiffed Katrina Victims, New York Post, February 7, 2010. 50 Id.

51 Id. 52 Boehm, National Legal and Policy Center, Jan. 31, 2010 53 Id. 54 Klein and Vincent, New York Post, Feb. 7, 2010. 55 Id. 56 Id. 57 Id. 58 Justin Elliott, U.S. Attorney Subpoenas NY Officials On Rep. Meeks’ Non-Profit, TPMMuckraker, February 12, 2010; Jennifer Fermino, Meeks Passes the Bucks on Scandal, New York Post, March 16, 2010.

Greater Jamaica Development Corp.

According to the New York Post, federal investigators have subpoenaed Rep. Meeks’ records for information about the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., a Queens nonprofit.59 Rep. Meeks has secured millions of dollars in public money for the charity, including $9.2 million from the Federal Transit Administration for rehabilitation of an underpass.60 Former Rep. Flake is a member of Greater Jamaica’s board.61

Ties to Convicted Financier Allen Stanford

Rep. Meeks, a member of the Caribbean Caucus, took at least six trips to luxurious Caribbean resorts paid for by the Inter-American Economic Council, a nonprofit heavily backed by banker R. Allen Stanford, between 2003 and 2007.62 In 2006, in response to questions from the New York Daily News about the trips, Rep. Meeks claimed the trips were for business, though his wife traveled with him.63 It helps my marriage,” he said.64 Stanford Financial Group also hosted a fundraiser for Rep. Meeks on the island of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands on July 18, 2008.65 Additionally, Stanford Financial Group’s political action committee and employees donated $15,100 to Rep. Meeks during the 2008 election cycle, making the firm the third largest contributor to Rep. Meeks’ campaign committee. 66 Rep. Meeks also reportedly tried to set up a meeting between Mr. Ahmad and Mr. Stanford after receiving the $40,000 loan from Mr. Ahmad.67

In March 2006, after the president of Mr. Stanford’s bank in Venezuela, Gonzalo Tirado, filed a lawsuit and raised questions about whether Mr. Stanford was involved in fraud, Mr. Stanford called Rep. Meeks, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and asked him to intervene by going directly to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and requesting a criminal investigation of Mr. Tirado.68 Two former federal agents then working for Mr. Stanford were listening to the call and said Rep. Meeks agreed to pursue the matter with President Chavez.69

Rep. Meeks traveled to Venezuela in 2006 on a trip described as a meeting to express gratitude for a program that provided heating oil to Americans.70 In 2007, Mr. Tirado was

59 Vincent and Klein, New York Post, Apr. 18, 2010. 60 Id. 61 Id. 62 Rob Barry, Michael Sallah, and Gerardo Reyes, Gregory Meeks’ Trip to Venezuela On Behalf of Stanford’s Bank Raises Ethics Questions, Miami Herald, December 27, 2009; Greg B. Smith, Meeks Not Shy About Gifts; Enjoyed 6 Caribbean Visits Thanks to an Accused Con Artist, New York Daily News, December 29, 2009.

63 Smith, New York Daily News, Dec. 29, 2009. 64 Id. 65 Complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission by the National Legal and Policy Center, October 28, 2011 available at http://nlpc.org/stories/2011/11/03/watchdog-files-fec-complaint-against-rep-meeks-stanford-fundraiser. 66 http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2008&type=I&cid=N00001171&newMem=N& recs=20. 67 Editorial, Greg Meeks’ Felonious Friends, New York Post, October 12, 2012. 68 Barry, Sallah, and Reyes, Miami Herald, Dec. 27, 2009. 69 Id. 70 Id.

indicted in Venezuela.71 Rep. Meeks has declined to answer questions about the trip, about 72 whether he intervened in the case of Mr. Tirado, and about his relationship with Mr. Stanford.

In 2009, Mr. Stanford was indicted for running a Ponzi scheme and federal investigators reportedly began examining his ties to lawmakers, including Rep. Meeks.73 The current status of the investigation is unknown.

Status of Investigations

In April 2010, Rep. Meeks officially notified then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) he had been served with a subpoena for documents issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; press reports said the subpoena was tied to the federal corruption probe into the nonprofits tied to Rep. Meeks and other Queens politicians.74 In May 2013, federal authorities arrested former New York Senate Majority Leader John Sampson (D) on bribery charges related to the probe.75 Mr. Ahmad reportedly helped prosecutors gather information used to bring those charges.76 The current status of the federal investigation into Rep. Meeks is unknown, but recent news reports suggest it is ongoing.77 For example, in June 2013, former state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-NY), who cooperated with federal agents and taped other New York politicians suspected of corruption, said she agreed to a plan to invite suspects to her home so they could be taped, but when federal agents suggested inviting Rep. Meeks, she told them he only “meets in parks” and would be unlikely to come.78

After conducting an investigation into Rep. Meeks’ loans, OCE referred his case to the House Ethics Committee on May 18, 2011.79 OCE found substantial reason to believe Rep. Meeks “failed to properly disclose the $40,000 as a gift on his 2007, 2008, and 2009 Financial Disclosure Statements in violation of House rules, standards of conduct and federal law.”80 OCE noted that both Rep. Meeks and Mr. Ahmad had declined to cooperate with OCE’s investigation of the loan, and it “appeared to lack the normal indicia, including a set interest rate or repayment terms, of a legitimate loan. Therefore, this $40,000 transferred to Representative Meeks in 2007

71 Id. 72 Barry, Sallah, and Reyes, Miami Herald, Dec. 27, 2009. 73 Michael Sallah and Rob Barry, Feds Probe Banker Allen Stanford’s Ties to Congress, Miami Herald, December 29, 2009. On March 6, 2012, Mr. Stanford was found guilty on 13 of 14 counts of operating a Ponzi scheme, including charges of fraud, conspiracy and obstructing an investigation by the SEC. On June 14, 2012, he was sentenced to 110 years in prison. Press Release, Department of Justice, Allen Stanford Sentenced To 110 Years In Prison For Orchestrating $7 Billion Investment Fraud Scheme, June 14, 2012. 74 S.A. Miller and Murray Weiss, Subpoena Takes Meeks By Storm, New York Post, April 16, 2010. 75 Mitchel Maddux and Dan Mangan, State Sen. John Sampson Indicted on Embezzlement Charges, Faces 120 Years, New York Post, May 7, 2013. 76 Id. 77 Irving DeJohn and Kenneth Lovett, Smith Was ‘Willing To Sell His Soul To Be The Man Again’, New York Daily News, April 4, 2013; Maddux and Mangan, New York Post, May 7, 2013; John Marzulli, Water Gate Shirley’s Espionage Drama; Spy Pol Tells All About Her 007 Trickery, New York Daily News, June 10, 2013. 78 Id. 79 Press Release, House Committee on Ethics, 112th Congress, Statement of the Chairman and Ranking Member Regarding Mr. Michael Collins, Mr. Greg Hill, Representative Gregory Meeks, and Representative Jean Schmidt, July 1, 2011. 80 OCE Report and Findings, at 1.

appears to have been a gift.”81 OCE recommended the House Ethics Committee further review the matter and issue subpoenas to Rep. Meeks and Mr. Ahmad.82

In contrast, OCE found the 2010 loan from Four Investments contained an interest rate and repayment schedule, and was recorded in a written agreement that was executed and filed with the New York City Department of Finance.83 As a result, OCE recommended dismissal of allegations concerning that loan.84 On August 5, 2011, the House Ethics Committee said it would dismiss the allegation that Rep. Meeks received an improper loan in 2010, but would continue to review the 2007 payment.85

On December 20, 2012, the House Ethics Committee found Rep. Meeks failed to disclose the loan on his personal financial disclosure forms, but concluded there was no evidence his failure was in bad faith or was knowing or willful and decided to take no further action against him.86 The committee also said it could not conclude Mr. Ahmad’s loan to Rep. Meeks constituted an improper gift.87 Rep. Meeks told the committee he had lost the loan agreement, and thus could not produce evidence of the terms of the loan.88 The committee, however, was unable to interview Mr. Ahmad, whose lawyer said Mr. Ahmad would invoke the Fifth Amendment if the committee subpoenaed him, unless he was given immunity from prosecution.89 Mr. Ahmad’s lawyer did tell committee staff that Rep. Meeks had not signed any loan documents and the loan carried no fixed interest rate, contradicting Rep. Meeks’ version of events.90 The committee, however, said Mr. Ahmad’s “highly compromised credibility” meant it could not reasonably conclude Rep. Meeks had been untruthful without documentary evidence showing the money was not a loan.91

Legal Fees

Since 2010, Rep. Meeks’ campaign committee and political action committee have reported paying more than $400,000 in legal fees to seven firms: $211,000 to Dorsey & Whitney, $146,627 to Perkins Coie, $31,832 to Arent Fox, $4,740 to Wiltshire & Grannis, $4,205 to Thomas V. Kenney, Jr., Esq., $10,031 to Baldassare & Mara, and $2,000 to Steptoe & Johnson.92

81 Id. 82 Id. at 20. 83 Id. at 5. 84 Id. 85 Press Release, House Committee on Ethics, 112th Congress, Statement of the Chairman and Ranking Member Regarding Representative Gregory W. Meeks, August 5, 2011. 86 In the Matter of Allegations Relating to Representative Gregory Meeks, H. Rep. No. 112-709, 112th Cong., 2d Sess. 5-6 (Dec. 20, 2012). 87 Id. at 6. 88 Id. at 4. 89 Id. at 5. 90 In the Matter of Allegations Relating to Representative Gregory Meeks, H. Rep. No. 112-709, 112th Cong., 2d Sess. 6. 91 Id.; Press Release, House Committee on Ethics, 112th Congress, Statement of the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Ethics Regarding Representative Gregory W. Meeks, December 20, 2012. 92 Friends for Gregory Meeks, FEC Form 3, 2010-2013 Reports; Build America PAC, FEC Form 3X, 2010-2013 Reports.

Potential Violations

False Statements on Personal Financial Disclosure Forms

The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires all members of Congress to file financial disclosure reports.93 Under the statute, the attorney general may seek a civil penalty of up to $50,000 against any individual who knowingly and willfully falsifies or fails to file or report any information required by the Act.94 House Rule 26 incorporates the financial disclosure provisions of the Ethics in Government Act.95

Federal law prohibits anyone from making “any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation”96 on “a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch.”97 Further, personal obligations aggregating over $10,000 owed to one creditor at any time during the calendar year, regardless of repayment terms or interest rates, must be included on personal financial disclosure statements.98

By deliberately leaving the $40,000 gift/loan from Mr. Ahmad off of his 2007 and 2008 financial disclosure forms, Rep. Meeks made at least two prohibited false statements. In addition, by mischaracterizing the $40,000 he received from Mr. Ahmad as a loan on his 2009 financial disclosure reports, when in fact the money was more likely a gift, Rep. Meeks appears to have made another false statement.

In addition, given that Rep. Meeks appears to have received a discount of at least $170,000 on the price of his home, the $170,000 constitutes a gift that should have been reported on his personal financial disclosure form. The failure to include this gift is a false statement.

False Statement to the House Ethics Committee

Federal law also prohibits anyone from making “any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation”99 to “any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.”100

If Rep. Meeks’ claims to the House Ethics Committee that the $40,000 he received from Mr. Ahmad was a loan, the loan had a repayment schedule and was to be repaid with interest, the terms were put in writing, and Rep. Meeks lost the loan agreement – all statements contradicted

93 Pub. L. No. 95-521, 92 Stat. 1824 (Oct. 26, 1978). 94 5 U.S.C. app. 4, § 104. 95 House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, House Ethics Manual, at 248 (110th Cong., 2d Sess., 2008 ed.). 96 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2). 97 18 U.S.C. § 1001(c)(1). 98 House Ethics Manual, at 258 (citing 5 U.S.C. app. 4 § 102(a)(4)). 99 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2). 100 18 U.S.C. § 1001(c)(2).

by Mr. Ahmad’s lawyer – were false, he may have made additional false statements in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Acceptance of a Bribe

Federal law prohibits public officials from directly or indirectly demanding, seeking, receiving, accepting, or agreeing to receive or accept anything of value in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act.101

It appears Rep. Meeks bought his house for at least $170,000 less than it was worth. If the congressman took any official action in exchange for receiving that discount, he may have accepted a bribe. Similarly, if Rep. Meeks exchanged any official action for the $40,000 he received from Mr. Ahmad, that payment also may constitute a bribe. If Rep. Meeks used his position to benefit Mr. Baldeo in exchange for discounted rent, he may have accepted bribes.

Finally, if Rep. Meeks used his position in Congress for the benefit of Mr. Stanford in exchange for campaign contributions or luxury trips, he may have accepted bribes.

Illegal Gratuity

The illegal gratuity statute prohibits a public official from directly or indirectly demanding, seeking, receiving, accepting, or agreeing to accept anything of value personally for or because of any official act performed or to be performed by such official.102 In considering this statute, the Supreme Court has held that a link must be established between the gratuity and a specific action taken by or to be taken by the government official.103

If Rep. Meeks took any official action in exchange for receiving the at least $170,000 discount on his house, he may have violated the illegal gratuity statute. Similarly, if Rep. Meeks exchanged any official action for the $40,000 he received from Mr. Ahmad, that payment also may constitute an illegal gratuity. If Rep. Meeks used his position to benefit Mr. Baldeo in exchange for discounted rent, he may have violated the illegal gratuity statute. Finally, if Rep. Meeks used his position in Congress for the benefit of Mr. Stanford in exchange for campaign contributions or luxury trips, he may have violated the illegal gratuity statute.

In addition, the House Ethics Committee has used the acceptance of bribes and gratuities under these statutes as a basis for disciplinary proceedings and punishment of members, including expulsion.104

101 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)(A). 102 18 U.S.C. § 201(c)(1)(B). 103 United States v. Sun-Diamond Growers of Cal., 526 U.S. 398 (1999). 104 In the Matter of Representative Mario Biaggi, H.R. Rep. No. 100-506, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. (1988) (recommending expulsion of the member from the House); In the Matter of Representative Daniel J. Flood, H.R. Rep. No. 96-856, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. (1980).

Receiving Compensation For Exerting Improper Influence

A provision of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, 5 U.S.C. § 7353, prohibits federal employees, including members of Congress and staff, from soliciting or accepting anything of value from anyone who seeks official action from the employee’s agency, does business with that agency, or has interests which may be substantially affected by the performance of the employee’s official duties.105 House Rule 23, clause 3, similarly provides:

A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or employee of the House may not receive compensation and may not permit compensation to accrue to his beneficial interest from any source, the receipt of which would occur by virtue of influence improperly exerted from his position in the Congress.

If Rep. Meeks took any official action in exchange for receiving at least a $170,000 discount on his house, he may have violated 5 U.S.C. § 7353 and House Rule 23. Similarly, if Rep. Meeks exchanged any official action for the $40,000 he received from Mr. Ahmad, he may have violated 5 U.S.C. § 7353 and House Rule 23. If Rep. Meeks used his position to benefit Mr. Baldeo in exchange for discounted rent, he may have violated these provisions. Finally, if Rep. Meeks used his position in Congress for the benefit of Mr. Stanford in exchange for campaign contributions or luxury trips, he may have violated 5 U.S.C. § 7353 and House Rule 23.

Official Action for Personal Gain

Members of the House are prohibited from “taking any official actions for the prospect of personal gain for themselves or anyone else.”106 House members are directed to adhere to 5 C.F.R. § 2635.702(a), issued by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics for the Executive Branch, which provides:

An employee shall not use or permit use of his Government position or title or any authority associated with his public office in a manner that is intended to coerce or induce another person . . . to provide any benefit, financial or otherwise, to himself or to friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.

If Rep. Meeks took any official action in exchange for receiving at least a $170,000 discount on his house, he may have violated 5 C.F.R. § 2635.702(a). Similarly, if Rep. Meeks exchanged any official action for the $40,000 he received from Mr. Ahmad, he may have

105 The House Ethics Committee interprets this provision to apply to accepting campaign contributions, but not soliciting them. House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, “Memorandum For All Members, Officers and Employees,” Rules Governing (1) Solicitation by Members, Officers and Employees in General, and (2) Political Fundraising Activity in House Offices, April 25, 1997; House Ethics Manual, at 143-44, 150.

106 House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, “Memorandum For All Members, Officers and Employees,” Prohibition Against Linking Official Actions to Partisan or Political Considerations, or Personal Gain, May 11, 1999.

violated 5 C.F.R. § 2635.702(a). If Rep. Meeks used his position to benefit Mr. Baldeo in exchange for discounted rent, he may have violated this provision. Finally, if Rep. Meeks used his position in Congress for the benefit of Mr. Stanford in exchange for campaign contributions or luxury trips, he may have violated 5 C.F.R. § 2635.702(a). Unfairly Discriminating By Dispensing Special Favors

The Code of Ethics for Government Service provides that government officials should:

Never discriminate unfairly by the dispensing of special favors or privileges to anyone, whether for remuneration or not; and never accept for himself or his family, favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of his official duties.107

If Rep. Meeks took any official action in exchange for receiving at least a $170,000 discount on his house, he may have dispensed special favors in violation of the Code of Ethics for Government Service. Similarly, if Rep. Meeks exchanged any official action for the $40,000 he received from Mr. Ahmad, he may have dispensed special favors in violation of the Code of Ethics for Government Service. If Rep. Meeks used his position to benefit Mr. Baldeo in exchange for discounted rent, he may have violated this provision. Finally, if Rep. Meeks used his position in Congress for the benefit of Mr. Stanford in exchange for campaign contributions or luxury trips, he may have dispensed special favors in violation of the Code of Ethics for Government Service.

Gift Rule Violations

Rule 25, clause 5(a)(1)(A)(i) of the House rules states that “a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House may not knowingly accept a gift except as provided in this clause.” The rules define “gift” to mean “a gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forebearance, or other item having monetary value.”108

While members and staff may accept gifts on the basis of personal friendship, no gifts valued at over $250 may be accepted on this basis absent a written determination by the House Ethics Committee.109 Further, the donor, description and value of any gifts aggregating over $335 from a single source must be disclosed on a member’s personal financial disclosure statement.110

Rule 25, clause 5(a)(3)(R)(v) allows members, officers, and employees to accept opportunities and benefits that are available to a wide group, specifically providing that they may accept “loans from banks and other financial institutions on terms generally available to the public.” The House Ethics Committee has interpreted this rule:

107 72 Stat., Part 2, B12, H. Con. Res. 175, 85th Cong. (adopted July 11, 1958); House Ethics Manual, at 20. 108 Rule 25, cl. 5(a)(2)(A). 109 Rule 25, cl. 5(a)(5); House Ethics Manual, at 40. These determinations are not public. Id. 110 5 U.S.C. app. 4 § 102(a)(2); House Ethics Manual, at 84, 258-59. This amount has since been increased to $350.

to allow the acceptance of loans from persons other than financial institutions, provided that they are on terms which satisfy the requirements which the Committee had previously utilized in evaluating loans: that is, the terms are commercially reasonable, including requirements for repayment and a reasonable rate of interest.111

The Committee cautioned, however, that to ensure a loan is on commercially reasonable terms, before entering into any loan arrangement with someone other than a financial institution, members and staff “should contact the Committee for a review of the proposed terms, and a determination by the Committee on whether the loan is acceptable under the gift rule. Those who accept such a loan without Committee consideration run a risk of being found in violation of the gift rule, and possible other provisions of law as well.”112

Discounted House Price

It appears Rep. Meeks was permitted to purchase his house for a price one appraiser estimated was at least $170,000 less than the home’s value. Because discounts constitute gifts, Rep. Meeks appears to have accepted an improper gift by paying less than the home’s true value.

Gift of $40,000

Even though the House Ethics Committee said it could not conclude Mr. Ahmad’s $40,000 alleged loan was a gift, given that Rep. Meeks failed to seek the committee’s approval of it, and failed to repay any portion of the money until the FBI began investigating the matter, this so-called loan was more likely an impermissible gift.

Loan of $40,000

Alternatively, although there is no indicia suggesting the $40,000 was a loan from Mr. Ahmad – no loan agreement, no loan term, no payment schedule, and no cancelled checks – if the money was a loan rather than a gift, Rep. Meeks still violated federal law and House rules.

First, House rules require members and staff who wish to accept a personal loan from someone other than a financial institution to seek permission from the Committee before accepting the loan. Rep. Meeks has admitted he never put the matter to the Committee. As a result, Rep. Meeks violated House rules by accepting the $40,000 from Mr. Ahmad.

Second, the terms for loans accepted from anyone other than a financial institution must be commercially reasonable. Here, the absence of a loan term, payment schedule, and defined interest rate demonstrate the loan was not made on commercially reasonable terms. As a result, Rep. Meeks violated House rules by accepting the loan.

111 House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, “Memorandum from Committee on Standards of Official Conduct,” Gift Rule Provisions Applicable to Loans to Members, Officers, and Employees, May 23, 1997 (found in House Ethics Manual, at 381-384). 112 Id.

Third, as explained above, personal obligations aggregating over $10,000 owed to one creditor at any time during the calendar year, regardless of repayment terms or interest rate, must be included on personal financial disclosure statements, and failing to report them is a federal crime.113 Here, by deliberately failing to include the loan on his 2007 and 2008 financial disclosure forms, and by including it on his 2009 forms only after the FBI questioned the loan, Rep. Meeks appears to have violated federal law.

Conduct Not Reflecting Creditably on the House

House Rule 23 requires all members of the House to conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House.”114 This ethics standard is considered to be “the most comprehensive provision” of the code.115 When this section was first adopted, the Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct noted it was included within the Code to deal with “flagrant” violations of the law that reflect on “Congress as a whole,” which might otherwise go unpunished.116 This rule has been relied on by the committee in numerous prior cases in which the committee found unethical conduct including: the failure to report campaign contributions,117 making false statements to the committee,118 criminal convictions for bribery,119 accepting illegal gratuities,120 and accepting gifts from persons with interest in legislation in violation of the gift rule.121

By purchasing a house for at least $170,000 less than its value, Rep. Meeks acted in a manner that brings discredit to the House. Similarly, by taking $40,000 from a New York businessman without any kind of loan agreement or repayment schedule, and then – only after a newspaper discovered and questioned the transaction – describing the money as a loan and suddenly repaying it, Rep. Meeks acted in a manner that brings discredit to the House. Finally,

113 House Ethics Manual, at 258 (citing 5 U.S.C. App. 4 § 102(a)(4)). 114 Rule 23, cl. 1. 115 House Ethics Manual, at 12. 116 House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, Report Under the Authority of H. Res. 418, H. Rep. No. 1176, 90th Cong., 2d Sess. 17 (1968).

117 House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, In the Matter of Representative John J. McFall, H. Rep. No. 95- 1742, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. 2-3 (1978) (Count 1); In the Matter of Representative Edward R. Roybal, H. Rep. No. 95-1743, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. 2-3 (1978). 118 House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, In the Matter of Representative Charles H. Wilson (of California), H. Rep. No. 95-1741, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. 4-5 (1978); H. Rep. No. 95-1743 (Counts 3-4).

119 House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, In the Matter of Representative Michael J. Myers, H. Rep. No. 96-1387, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. 2, 5 (1980); see 126 Cong. Rec. 28953-78 (Oct. 2, 1980) (debate and vote of expulsion); In the Matter of Representative John W. Jenrette, Jr., H. Rep. No. 96-1537, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. 4 (1980) (Member resigned); In the Matter of Representative Raymond F. Lederer, H. Rep. No. 97-110, 97th Cong., 1st Sess. 4, 16-17 (1981) (Member resigned after Committee recommended expulsion). In another case, the Committee issued a Statement of Alleged Violation concerning bribery and perjury, but took no further action when the Member resigned (In the Matter of Representative Daniel J. Flood, H. Rep. No. 96-856, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. 4- 16, 125-126 (1980)).

120 House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, In the Matter of Representative Mario Biaggi, H. Rep. No. 100- 506, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. 7, 9 (1988) (Member resigned while expulsion resolution was pending). 121 House Comm. on Standards of Official Conduct, In the Matter of Representative Charles H. Wilson (of California), H. Rep. No. 96-930, 96th Cong. 2d Sess. 4-5 (1980); see 126 Cong. Rec. 13801-20 (June 10, 1980) (debate and vote of censure).

Rep. Meeks’ relationships with the New York charities that have been unable to account for their funds, as well as the actions he took at Mr. Sanford’s behest, may violate various federal laws, but in any event, certainly do not reflect creditably upon the House.

See more: http://www.crewsmostcorrupt.org/mostcorrupt

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/03/meet-the-most-corrupt-congressman-possibly-ever-gregory-meeks/

Mar 21 2014

The weekend review

Queens PoliticsPlenty of hits on QP; read below to see what all the fuss is about.

If you missed anything, here’s the annotated rundown of everything we posted this week plus the ever-popular search terms highlighted below.

 

 

 

 

  • The Queens Fellowship is hosting an event at Flushing Town Hall.
  • An email from John Liu explains his lawsuit as principal not politics.
  • Jody Kriss is in the NYPOST.
  • The race to replace Avella gets more interesting.
  • Young students from Queens doing amazing things.
  • Senator Gianaris and other elects join forces with a strong letter to the MTA.
  • Navy Vet seeks to replace Malcolm Smith, or does she? More to follow on this story.
  • NYPIRG was leafletting super markets in Assemblyman Simanowitz’s district.

* Search terms give us a sense of what people are searching for. See for yourself:

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/03/week-in-review-4/

Mar 21 2014

NYPIRG To Simanowitz: Label GMO’s Now

nypirg

Lobbying for labels.

NYPIRG activists from Queens College were distributing leaflets in local supermarkets to urge Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz to vote in favor of a bill sponsored by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Senator Kenneth Lavalle that requires labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or, GMOs, in New York State.

Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

CONTACT: Rob Kornblum

718-926-7738 (cell)

QUEENS SHOPPERS SPEAK UP FOR GMO LABELING LAW

Students take to local supermarkets to push for labeling of genetically engineered foods

[FLUSHING, NY] – Today, shoppers at an Associated Supermarket and Aron’s Kissena Farms were greeted by student activists from the Queens College chapter of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), asking them to urge their NYS Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz to vote in favor of a bill that requires labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or, GMOs, in New York State.

“New Yorkers have the right to know what’s in the food they consume,” said Julia Bernhardt, Queens College student and NYPIRG advocate. “We are here talking to shoppers about the issue and having them call their Assemblymember to tell him to make sure foods containing GMOs are labeled, just like they are in many other countries around the world.”

This afternoon’s action is part of a larger statewide effort to align New York with other states like Connecticut and Maine, which have recently taken steps to secure labeling of foods containing GMOs throughout the northeast market. The bill—number A3525/S3835—is sponsored by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Senator Kenneth Lavalle.

Students, armed with clipboards full of flyers and carrying signs depicting so-called “franken-foods,” engaged shoppers in discussions about the topic and helped them contact the office of Assemblymember Simanowitz. Simanowitz, who represents Flushing, sits on the NYS Assembly’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection, where the bill currently resides. For it to continue on its path toward becoming law, it must first get voted out of this committee.

“Right now, big agricultural companies like Monsanto are dipping into their endless resources and lobbying our elected officials in a brazen attempt to undermine this effort—just like they did in California and then in Washington State,” said NYPIRG Project Coordinator, Gabe Recchio. “But we know the public is on the side of transparency, not secrecy, and that’s why Assemblymember Simanowitz’s constituents are speaking out.”

Genetically engineered food is labeled in 64 countries, including all European countries, Australia and Japan. Advocates argue that genetically modified food is fundamentally different from non-genetically modified food, and needs to be labeled. GMOs have been tied to the creation of new allergies, the inflated use of herbicides, and have increasingly permeated the agricultural landscape over the last two decades.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/03/nypirg-to-simanowitz-label-gmos-now/

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