It would be charitable to call this one a mess: Two prominent Queens politicians are under scrutiny because the nonprofit they set-up to aid Katrina victims delivered barely 1/30th of their funds to evacuees. According to the ethics watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center, tax records show that only $1,392 of at least $31,000 raised to help Katrina families was paid to victims.
Rep. Gregory Meeks and state Sen. Malcolm Smith set up The New Direction Local Development Corporation charity in 2001 with Ponzi billionaire Allen Stanford, and the Post alleges it has operated as a kind of slush fund. After Katrina, a special fund was created, New Yorkers Organized to Assist Hurricane Families (NOAH-F), under the auspices of the New Direction; at the time, Meeks said that "there would be no administrative costs attached to the effort."
In a special report in today's Post, everyone involved with the charity is passing the buck and pleading ignorance on this one; Smith has disavowed any involvement with the group beyond establishing it, and Meeks told the Queens Chronicle, “It is not my charity. I didn’t hire anyone and I didn’t get involved with the day to day operations of the group.” In a statement, he added that "a committee of community representatives functioned as advisers to the fund." But several of those "community representatives" interviewed by the paper all claim they don't know who exactly was distributing the money, one advisory member even saying, "I never attended any board meetings."
The plot thickens, according to Free Republic— from 2002 to 2008, the group’s address was the office of a lawyer named Joan Flowers, who served as campaign treasurer for both Meeks and Smith. Flowers is a well-connected political operative, who is the current campaign treasurer of... wait for it!... Governor Paterson.