Meeks Admits ‘Oversight’
Congressman Gregory Meeks, who represents the eastern end of the Rockaway peninsula in the House of Representatives, has admitted that he omitted some loans from his financial disclosure documents, but that those omissions were simply an “oversight,” adding that “right-wing interest groups” are out to get him.
“Beginning at the height of the selection process for Aqueduct Racino development investors as I fought for local participation, and for the past several months, right-wing interest groups such as the National Legal and Policy Center and sensationalist media outlets have lodged unfounded attacks against me and other respectable members of the Queens community related to my family home and my involvement with New Direction Local Development Corporation,” Meeks said last week in a prepared statement. “While speaking out against these baseless allegations, I felt it was important to confirm that I have been in full compliance with the House of Representatives’ financial disclosure requirements.
“Accordingly, prior to the May 17, 2010 filing deadline, I requested a one month extension, until June 16, 2010, to file my 2009 House of Representatives financial disclosure statement so that I could undertake an extremely thorough review of my finances and previous disclosure statements,” he added. “This review resulted in two important discoveries that have motivated my actions relevant to disclo- sures over the past month:
1. My previously filed financial disclosure statements omitted two personal loans — one from the Congressional Federal Credit Union in September 2008, and another from my friend, Ed Ahmad, in January 2007 — and two board positions that I have held since 2004. I take full responsibility for and regret this oversight.
I disclosed all of these items on my 2009 financial disclosure statement, I immediately filed amended statements for years 2004 through 2008, and I have implemented processes to guard against such oversights in the future. The two loans on the amended filings are the same two loans disclosed on my 2009 filings with adjustments for compounded interest.
2. When Ed Ahmad loaned me $40,000 in January 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 statements.”
Meeks is under investigation by both federal and state grand juries in several areas, state officials say, including his connection to the Aqueduct Entertainment Group bid to run a gambling Racino at Aqueduct Racetrack; his connection, along with State Senator Malcolm Smith, to a non-profit called New Direction in Community Development and its spin-off Hurricane Katrina charity, NOAH-F; along with the loans he took to build his $1.3 million dollar house; and the international trips he made as a Congressman.
One loan Meeks took out from a Queens businessman and did not report on his disclosure forms has even whetted the interest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a published report in the New York Daily News, which has its I-Team working full time investigating both Meeks and Smith.
Meeks addresses that fact.
“At least one news outlet has concocted a timeline of these events that sacrifices truth for sales, but the actual timeline is quite simple: I was being subjected to completely baseless attacks, conducted a detailed financial review while continuing to respond to these allegations, discovered that I had made a legitimate, regrettable oversight with regard to my financial disclosure statements, immediately and voluntarily took action to bring myself into full compliance with House requirements regarding those statements, and made the financially prudent decision to replace a high interest loan with a lower interest loan,” Meeks said of the Daily News series of reports.
“I addressed these issues as effectively as possible while in the middle of the conference committee process for the greatest Congressional financial reform undertaking in decades;
I did this to ensure that I was in compliance and could remain focused on addressing the critical issues facing residents in my district and our nation.”