2010-07-30 / Top Stories

Second Group Calls For Meeks Investigation

By Howard Schwach

Meeks at a recent visit to Gateway National Recreational Area with the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Congressman Anthony Weiner. Meeks at a recent visit to Gateway National Recreational Area with the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Congressman Anthony Weiner. A second Washington, D.C. watchdog group has called for an investigation into whether or not Congressman Gregory Meeks misused his office for personal gain.

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) has sent a letter to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Standards and Official Conduct officially asking the committee to investigate Meeks, who represents the eastern end of the Rockaway peninsula.

That letter came in the wake of a similar request last week from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) calling for an investigation into Meeks’ connections to a convicted swindler and other issues. The NLPC letter, sent to Representative Zoe Lofgren, the chair of the committee, asked for an investigation into Meeks’ dealings with Allen Stanford, accused by the federal government of cheating his investors out of more than $7 billion.

The letter says that Stanford contributed millions of dollars to lawmakers over the past decade, a large sum to Meeks.

In addition, Stanford financed many of Meeks’ trips to the tropics over the past several years.

“We want to determine if [Stanford] received special favors from the politicians,” the letter says.

“When Stanford was arrested and charged in connection with the $7 billion Ponzi scheme to defraud investors, many lawmakers who had received contributions from Stanford turned the money over to the court-appointed receiver to help compensate people who were cheated,” the letter says. “Meeks was listed as one of the Congressmen who instead turned ‘some of the money’ over to charities.”

“In 2003, Stanford began hosting trips for selected Congressmen to the Caribbean island of Antigua, where his financial operations were based,” the letter alleged. “In 2003, Stanford hosted a trip to that island costing $39,500, for several Congressmen, including Meeks. The trip included a stay at luxury hotels and the use of two Stanford jets for transportation.”

The letter also alleges that, in 2006, Stanford placed a call to Meeks with a request to go to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in order to seek a criminal investigation of Gonzalo Tirado, a man who had angered the financier.

The letter says that Meeks agreed to carry the message, according to federal agents who were listening to the call on a speakerphone.

Meeks did go to Venezuela and speak with Chavez.

Tirado was later arrested and charged.

“Meeks’ trip to Venezuela was billed as a mission to express gratitude to Chavez for a program that provided heating oil to Americans,” the letter said. “There was no mention of Stanford, whose bank was one of the most successful in his business network.”

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