Feds Subpoena Documents From Meeks

Congressman Mum on Investigation

Posted April 14, 2010 at 6:45pm

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) acknowledged this week that his office has been subpoenaed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, but aides declined to provide details about the materials being sought.

“Our district office received a request for documents, with which we promptly complied. We followed House rules in formally disclosing the request,” Meeks Chief of Staff Sophia King said Wednesday. “But the Congressman is committed to assisting this review, and we are otherwise respecting its confidentiality.”

Under House rules, Members are required to notify the Speaker’s office when they receive a subpoena or other judicial order.

Meeks notified the Speaker of the subpoena in a March 30 letter read into the Congressional Record on Tuesday.

The House Office of the General Counsel, which represents and gives legal advice to the chamber, advised Meeks that compliance “was consistent with the privileges and rights of the House.”

That letter indicated the subpoena sought only documents from the district office and did not indicate any request for documents or depositions from Meeks himself.

A spokeswoman in the Justice Department’s Southern District of New York division declined to comment on the subpoena.

It is not known whether the subpoenas are tied to an ongoing federal investigation into a nonprofit organization founded by Meeks and a New York state lawmaker, which was first reported by the New York Post in February.

The Justice Department is reportedly examining the nonprofit New Direction Local Development Corp. and its New Yorkers Organized to Assist Hurricane Families project over allegations about the whereabouts of $31,000 in funds raised for Hurricane Katrina victims.

New York Gov. David Paterson’s (D) office acknowledged in mid-February that the state’s Lottery Division received federal subpoenas related to the NDLDC. But the Albany Times Union reported the subpoena does not name the nonprofit and is focused on how contracts — which have since been canceled — were awarded for a New York race track and casino.

Federal investigators also subpoenaed state Senate President Malcolm Smith (D), the nonprofit’s co-founder, around the same time for information related to his direction of state earmarks to charity groups in the state, the New York Times reported in February. Smith reportedly directed $56,500 to his own nonprofit from 2001 to 2006.

Following a New York Post article detailing the nonprofit group’s finances in January, Meeks denied day-to-day involvement in the charity.

“It is not my charity,” Meeks told the Queens Chronicle in February. “I didn’t hire anyone and I didn’t get involved with the day to day operations of the group.”

Meeks similarly told the Web site TPMMuckraker in February, referring to the Hurricane Katrina charity: “I was not involved in the group’s day-to-day operations. I believe in transparency so to the extent that there is an investigation, like everybody else, I look forward to a clear presentation of the fact.”