New York Democrats in hot water over slush fund

A couple of New York Democrats are in hot water over a purported political slush fund masquerading as a non profit organization.

Give these guys high marks for creativity. As far a their ethics? This piece by Joe Mollica and Jeremy Olshan in the New York Post dishes the dirt:

A nonprofit founded with help from two New York legislators -- Rep. Gregory Meeks and state Sen. Malcolm Smith -- functions more like a slush fund than a charity, according to an ethics watchdog group, which plans to file a state ethics complaint against Smith this week.

As The Post reported yesterday, New Direction Development Corp., which was created in 2001 with help from the two Queens Democrats, appears to have used its funds to pay for meals, entertainment, consulting fees and IRS penalties.

Some $150,000 in donations, including thousands the community raised to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, remains unaccounted for, according to Ken Boehm, head of the National Legal and Policy Center.

"When you see lots and lots of consulting fees with large amounts flashing around, at some point one wonders if an elected official is trying to sell their office," said Boehm.

"Sen. Smith, with respect to New Direction, violated several provisions of New York state law," he said.

Boehm says his group will lodge a complaint with the state's Public Integrity Commission this week.

When his constituents helped raise close to $15,000 to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, Meeks promised "every dime, every dime" would go to a group of 30 families displaced from New Orleans.

But there is no record the charity he and Smith founded along with their wives ever delivered more than $1,392 of aid.

Between 2001 and 2006, Smith helped funnel at least $56,000 to the charity through earmarks.

Smith refused to comment.

And what's a little New York sleaze without Governor Paterson being involved. Turns out that the charity's headquarters were in the law offices of a woman who served as campaign treasurer for not only Smith and Meeks. but Governor Paterson as well.

And the charity was founded with the help of a Paterson crony - who just happened to have recently received a $300 million contract to build a racetrack/casino.

Never let an opportunity for graft pass by the wayside if you're a New York Democrat.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky