2011-10-14 / Top Stories

Open Letter To The Wave From Congressman Gregory Meeks

I am writing to state my categorical rejection of the allegations and inventions you put forward in your column in the October 7, 2011 edition of The Wave. In that article, you repeatedly reference a New York Post article (October 2, 2011), which claimed that a secret meeting had been held without my knowledge in my district to select a successor in the event that I am “forced to resign” or “expelled from Congress” (your words). You repeated both the claim of a secret meeting and the fiction that I am considering resigning or that I might be ousted from Congress despite the fact that the day after the Post article appeared every individual named in it publicly denied that a secret meeting or any such discussion had ever taken place and in fact forcefully reiterated their support for me.

All of this happened a full three days before your column appeared. And unless the New York Post is the only publication you read you could have and should have taken into serious account the reporting in Crain’s and on WNYC’s website under its “The Empire” feature to that effect.

Instead you relied second hand on two unnamed elected officials who were “familiar with the gathering, who talked with the Post on the promise of anonymity” and “one local Democratic operative, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution by the powerful duo” of State Senator Malcolm Smith and me.

As for retribution, anyone attending my town hall meetings, my meetings with clergy and civic leaders, meetings that I or others have organized on controversial community issues, or anyone with knowledge of the exchanges I have with other elected officials, district leaders, or constituents, knows full well that “retribution” is not and has never been part of how I carry out the duties of my office.

The public statements of the elected officials mentioned in the Post article, especially that of Rep. Joe Crowley who is also the Queens County Democratic Party chair, and other well-known facts seem to have been of little concern to you since they do not fit in with your carefully crafted but nonetheless false narrative that was further sensationalized with reference to “a Washington watchdog” having named me “one of the most corrupt members of Congress.” This so-called “list” is an annual stunt by a group whose fundraising depends on disparaging members of Congress. Its latest press release is an irrational and irresponsible quilt of news clips, blog posts, and press releases from other groups, stitched together with weasel words like “seems to have,” “may have,” “it appears” and “may constitute.”

You did not seek to report in a balanced way, nor did you seek the facts as is necessary in credible journalism. If you did you might have included the fact that this summer the House Ethics Committee dismissed the 2010 loan allegation outright. The report and findings of the Office on Congressional Ethics did not support the second allegation. I hope the Ethics Committee will soon dismiss that one as well.

I have been responsive throughout this process. I have been open and frank about the facts. But, out of respect for the process I have chosen to reserve my comment until the deliberations have been concluded.

Both your column and the cartoon explicitly suggest that I stole funds from the New Directions non-profit. You and your colleague are perpetuating an outright lie. The fact is I welcomed an investigation into New Directions and promised my full cooperation with any and all authorities. And there has been no credible allegation, let alone any investigation that has supported this dishonest charge.

In another falsehood, your column also claimed to have spoken with a member of my staff. But, a canvass of my staff showed that no one from my office spoke with you about the matters covered in your article nor were they contacted by you about this article.

Finally, I will not let it pass that your provocative, incendiary, and deliberately inaccurate column was accompanied by what I believe most observers would regard as an explicitly racist cartoon caricaturing State Senator Malcolm Smith and myself. I don’t use that characterization lightly or frequently, but it definitely applies in this case. The cartoon crosses way over the line of civility and violates the necessary sensitivity that a publication in 21st century America ought to consistently and conscientiously display on every page of every issue, particularly when a publication has a racially diverse readership and relies on ads from retailers and other commercial enterprises that have a racially diverse customer base.

It is one thing to disagree with me politically or on policy, or to just dislike me personally for whatever reason. However, none of these reasons justify or authorize you as managing editor, or The Wave as “Rockaway’s newspaper since 1893” to resort to gross racial caricature reminiscent of the portrayal of Black elected officials during Reconstruction in the film, “Birth of a Nation,” nearly 100 years ago.

What the publication of the cartoon by Elgin Bolling reveals is the length to which The Wave will go to drum up animus toward me and other African American elected officials. This is not the first time you have published a demeaning depiction of African Americans. Therefore, I am left to conclude that the comfort that you as managing editor and a columnist, and The Wave on a whole, evidently have in publishing a racist caricature of African American elected officials as conniving thieves with thick, oversized lips, speaking in some sort of street vernacular, actually expresses a general view of African Americans.

This is unconscionable, unacceptable, and will not be tolerated. I demand that The Wave take the immediate affirmative step of publishing a retraction and an apology in its next issue (Friday, October 14, 2011). Moreover, it is my intention to share the views I have expressed above with your advertisers, other media, civil rights organizations, community groups, as well as the residents of the Rockaways.

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Don't cave Wave. Citizens for

Don't cave Wave. Citizens for Ethics in Washington (CREW) named Meeks the most corrupt politician in congress. The MOST. From sweetheart "loan" to taking gifts and collaborating with convicted criminals, he is as disgraceful as his former partner from the 9th district. The district can do better. This congressman who is under ethics investigation has had his say, but, methinks he protest too much.

I looked up CREW, and indeed

I looked up CREW, and indeed they put Rep.Meeks on their list, stating "the FBI seems to be looking into...". I think judgement should be deferred until the FBI concludes an investigation( if indeed they are investigating him)

Citizens for Responsibility &

Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington (CREW) listed Meeks as the "most corrupt" member last month. His involvement with a Katrina charity that yielded no funds to victims is worthy of a double-take. He also has had close associations with at least two shady characters in the personages of Edul Ahmad and Allen Stanford. Amad gave Meeks a $40,000.00 "loan" that only became a "loan" when discovered and was not repaid until the FBI inquired about it. That "loan" was left off of Meeks financial disclosure forms. Stanford, indicted in a Ponzi scheme was one of Meeks big fund raisers. There are a number of dubious deals related his fundraising. He then volunteered to mediate with Chavez when one of Stanford's crooked deals in a Venezuelan bank came under scrutiny due to a whistle-blower. There is also an issue related to "gifts" Meeks received from cronies too. If he is innocent of these charges, he most certainly seems to lack judgement when it comes to the company he keeps. Not the stuff of a leader from this community. We can do better. Meeks will certainly get his due process and when the dems were in power they dragged their feet, so it has been a long time coming, but now that there has been a changing of the guard, the timetable on this is sure to accelerate as we approach Nov. of next year. He deserves the legal presumption of innocence, but the court of public opinion is another matter, just ask Anthony Wiener. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck--it's a duck. It should be pointed out that CREW is non-partisan as most of their corrupt politicians stand with an (R) next to their name.


Finally, Queens Democratic leaders are so worried that the ethical and criminal probes surrounding Rep. Gregory Meeks will bring him down, they held a secret meeting to pick his successor.

The clandestine cabal assembled last month at the Guy Brewer Democratic Club in Queens and included the borough’s Democratic boss, Rep. Joseph Crowley, according to two elected officials familiar with the gathering. I guess they didn't get the memo on not judging Meeks prematurely.


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