2011-03-18 / Community

AG Probing Huntley Over Shady Non-Profit

By Howard Schwach

State Senator Shirley Huntley at a recent Broad Channel event. State Senator Shirley Huntley at a recent Broad Channel event. The state Attorney General’s Office is investigating State Senator Shirley Huntley, who represents Broad Channel, and her ties to nonprofits that have taken taxpayers for more than $400,000, according to sources in Albany.

News of the probe comes a week after the New York Post revealed the Queens Democrat tried to funnel $155,000 to her Parent Workshop nonprofit, and as new questions emerge about that nonprofit.

State records show that a $30,000 member item secured by Huntley in 2008 for The Parent Workshop went to two consultants, one of whom was listed as living in a Huntley family home.

Sherman Russell, 71, received $15,000 in 2008 and 2009 from the nonprofit founded by Huntley, purportedly to conduct workshops for parents and students on navigating the school system, the state records show.

Russell is listed on a state charity website as treasurer of The Parent Workshop, and his address is given as the same Valley Stream home as Huntley’s daughter, Pamela Corley.

Other public documents show he lives in Huntley’s Jamaica home, where he was registered to vote in 2010.

Russell and another consultant, David Gantt – who also earned $15,000 – were purportedly paid for conducting 24 workshops for parents and making “outreach visits” to schools and community groups, according to documents submitted by The Parent Workshop to the state for payment.

Gantt, 43, is a $37,169-a-year community associate for a city Housing Authority community center in Queens.

A spokesperson for Huntley declined to answer questions about her charity or the AG probe, saying that it would be inappropriate to speak on the subject while the investigation was ongoing.

Patricia Savage, who headed the charity and now works for Huntley as an $85,000-per-year “confidential assistant,” did not return phone calls.

Vanessa Sparks, the president since August 2010, told the Post she had never heard of Russell or Gantt.

The Post revealed last week that Huntley started The Parent Workshop in 2006, eight months before being elected. Once in office, she authorized the $30,000 grant and tried to send another $125,000 a year later. She said she dropped the larger grant after being told it was not appropriate.

Her daughter also ran a taxpayerfunded nonprofit out of the family home.

In addition, records show, Huntley’s campaign committee paid her daughter, Pamela Corley, $50,700 for three months of work on the last campaign. From July to September of 2010, records show, Corley was paid $1,000 as a consultant, $37,300 for wages as a campaign worker, $10,000 for polling costs and $2,400 for general office expenses.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office declined comment to The Wave, declining to either confirm or deny that the probe exists.

Published reports in several newspapers say that Huntley is also under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, but The Wave has not been able to independently corroborate that report.

Huntley’s campaign told the New York Post that the money paid to her daughter was for “reimbursements for campaign workers.”

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