Tuesday, July 23, 2019

It's Long Past Time For Congress-- And Queens-- To Be Rid Of Serial Corruptionist Gregory Meeks


In June, Blue America endorsed a bartender, rugby player, former legislative aide and Democratic Socialist, Shaniyat Chowdhury, for Congress. He's running in the deep blue (PVI is D+37) southeast Queens district (NY-05) that includes Jamaica, the Rockaways, Cambra Heights, Laurelton, Rosedale, Ozone Park, St Albans, Kew Gardens (+ a sliver of western Nassau County including Valley Stream and Elmont). Ethnically, it's a very diverse district, about 48% African-America, 20% Hispanic, 13% Asian, and 11% white. The incumbent is one of the most corrupt members of Congress, New Dem Gregory Meeks, more than just garden variety corrupt-- a real criminal.

The meme up top was produced by the highly respected nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) in 2011 when they named Meeks one of the most-corrupt members of Congress, just after the FBI had opened an investigation into fishy loans Meeks had gotten from a friend. Before that he had been fined $63,000 by the FEC for using campaign funds for personal expenses, basically the same charges that are likely to send Duncan Hunter to prison. Meeks always seems to use the race card when he gets into any trouble and manages to slip away with minimal damage to himself.

He's always claiming poverty but has a lifestyle of the rich and famous-- or at least always did til the NY Times and NY Post began writing his spending habits up as news, especially after it became obvious he was using taxpayer funds for fancy vacations and excessive luxuries. For over a decade the papers have been writing about his shady spending. In 2015, for example, Post reporters Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein noted that he "raked in thousands of travel miles last year, crisscrossing the globe in luxury trips to at least 16 countries-- including some funded by taxpayers, including trips to Morocco, Russia, Austria, Hungary, Panama, Israel, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Colombia...
“Congressman Meeks racks up more travel than most other members of Congress,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group. “Not only is he one of the most frequent foreign travelers, but he also has been at political fund-raisers from Las Vegas to the Virgin Islands. It’s a wonder he has any time to do work in his Queens district or Washington.”

Meeks has logged more travel since 2001 than any other Congress member from New York, according to a tally on the Web site LegiStorm.

...Meeks came under fire for shady travel in 2013 when he and nine other federal lawmakers and 32 staff members accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to Azerbaijan. The sponsor was the Council of Turkic-American Associations, but the junket to Baku, where participants received rugs and other expensive gifts, was secretly funded by the country’s oil company, according to a classified report by the Office of Congressional Ethics recently obtained by the Washington Post.
But he wasn't spending all his time globe-trotting. After whining how he lives "paycheck to paycheck" like so many of his constituents, he bought a mansion for $830,000 which seemed excessive for someone on a salary of $174,000; his wife's salary was $79,000. In his official congressional financial disclosures he claimed to have no checking or savings account worth more than $5,000, or any investment account worth more than $1,000."

Last week, the NY Daily News' Chris Sommerfeldt and Dave Goldiner dug around a little into the feud Meeks has been stoking with AOC, The Squad and the Justice Democrats, basically because he's freaking out about the primary challenge from Chowdhury, who hasn't been-- at least not yet-- been endorsed by AOC, The Squad, the Justice Dems or anyone else aside from locals and Blue America. "Queens Democratic boss and 11-term congressman Greg Meeks took a thinly-veiled jab at fellow Big Apple Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday," wrote Sommerfeldt and Goldiner, "urging her to back off her racially-tinged feud with party leaders or face a fight for her political life."

"Racially tinged?" Like every other Black Democrat in Congress, Meeks is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) which, like every other groups has some good members-- like Barbara Lee (AC), Joe Neguse (CO), John Lewis (GA), Alma Adams (NC), Karen Bass (CA), Ayanna Pressley (MA), Gwen Moore (WI) and Ilhan Omar (MN)-- and some bad members-- Meeks coming right to mind, but also David Scott (Blue Dog-GA), Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL) and Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA). The CBC has been having an institutional meltdown at the prospect of primaries and blaming it on The Squad. Meeks has been leading the charge, causing Ayanna Pressley to address Netroots Nation with a statement including "we don't need any more brown faces that don't want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don't want to be a black voice." Meeks seems to have taken it personally, probably because he's still feeling guilty for endorsing Hillary Clinton against Obama in 2008. More recently Meeks has been backing a series of white conservative candidates against progressive people of color, Tiffany Cabán, opposing for example, in favor of Melinda Katz in a still too-close-to-call race for Queens DA. In 2018 he loudly backed Michael Capuano, a white man, against Ayanna Pressley, a black woman. Meeks: "At a time when Donald Trump continues to spew hateful rhetoric and policies, we need a leader like Rep. Capuano in Congress. Civil rights are under attack, and we need to fight back. Rep. Capuano has built his career on standing up for those who have been left behind, from healthcare, to transportation, to housing. We in the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee have a strong, committed partner in Mike and unanimously support his campaign for Congress." With Meeks it's part of a pattern.

And now he's whining, dishonestly, that Justice Democrats, AOC and the Squad are targeting members of the CBC, never mentioning that their candidates are also black. He also never mentions that he's being challenged by Shaniyat, although that has a lot to do with why he's melting down over primaries.

In an interview with Sommerfeldt and Goldiner, he was flipping out over the Justice Democrats "openly backing insurgent candidates trying to unseat members of the Congressional Black Caucus."
He also said the CBC can play the same game.

“Primaries go two ways," Meeks said when asked whether his wing of the party would consider challenging progressive members next year, including Ocasio-Cortez. “If someone picks a fight with somebody else, you fight back. That’s what my parents told me.”

Meeks stressed there weren’t any current plans to challenge Ocasio-Cortez, but left the door open: "If you get in the ring, expect that people are going to start throwing punches.”

The Justice Democrats, a progressive political action committee that is closely aligned with Ocasio-Cortez and propelled her to victory in 2018, has already backed primary challenges against CBC members, including 10-term Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO).

The group, which is pushing to get corporate cash out of politics, has also made noise about possibly challenging Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn), both CBC members. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) is another New York lawmaker who’s being targeted by the group.
Engel is white and his opponent, school principal Jamaal Bowman, happens to be black and, at one time, might have expected a helping hand, instead of slings and arrows, from the CBC. Lacy Clay's opponent, Cori Bush, is black (and Clay is nearly as notoriously corrupt as Meeks). Jeffries has no primary opponent and Clarke has three, all of whom are black and none of whom have been endorsed by Justice Dems, AOC or The Squad. This is all Meeks playing his game.
Meeks said the Justice Democrats and left-leaning lawmakers may be shooting the party in the foot.

“I would hope that these individuals would realize who the opposition is here,” Meeks said, referring to Republicans. “The focus should be to keep the majority, grow the majority and win the presidency.”

The escalating tensions come amid increasingly nasty clashes between party progressives and centrists, boiling over this week with Ocasio-Cortez accusing Pelosi in an interview of being “outright disrespectful” for privately scolding her and other “newly elected women of color" for picking Twitter fights with fellow Dems.

Meeks called Ocasio-Cortez’s Pelosi comments “intolerable."

“We’re all on the same team,” Meeks said. “You don’t go after the speaker like that.”

A Democratic leadership source, who only spoke on condition of anonymity, was harsher.

“Justice Democrats in general are trust fund kids who are funding this with their parents’ money,” the source said, blasting the progressive group as “elitist” for criticizing black lawmakers from poor districts who take corporate donations. “It’s offensive for CBC members when these elites are looking down on them when they don’t have the financial ability to say, ‘I don’t want that money.’”

Asked for an example, the source pointed to Ocasio-Cortez chief of staff and Justice Democrats co-founder Saikat Chakrabarti, a millionaire Harvard graduate who worked on Wall Street before turning to left-wing politics.

A spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez declined to comment Friday, but the Justice Democrats took aim at the party establishment on her behalf.

“Senior members of the Democratic Party can make whatever false claims they want, but it’s clear that their bottom line is: no primary challenges," Justice Democrats board members Alexandra Rojas, Demond Drummer and Nasim Thompson said in a joint statement.

“Let’s make one thing clear," the trio added. "No incumbent is entitled to their seat. That’s why we have elections...Primaries are good for our party.”

Goal ThermometerThe leadership source said the Justice Democrats and Ocasio-Cortez are getting some of their own medicine.

“They have attacked, attacked, attacked and attacked. For the first time, they were attacked back and now they claim to be the victim,” the source said, referencing the pushback from Meeks and Pelosi. “Ocasio-Cortez kind of operates like Trump. She’s hellbent on sowing discord and spreading chaos, but if you look at it, it always traces back to one person: her.”
Trump, of course, has weighed in on Pelosi's side against the reformers. Big surprise! If you'd like to help Shaniyat Chowdhury replace Meeks... see that thermometer above? Just click on that and contribute what you can in the box next to his name.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


At 10:05 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

I'm on it Howie i'll spread the word on Shaniyat Chowdhury NY will show corrupt Meeks to the unemployment line during the primaries.

At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if serial corruptionists are your target, you'll never be able to do one column on every one deserving before the earth becomes like Venus. Live will die a long time before that.

But if you want to go from the top down, start at Pelosi. After her, the rest are really irrelevant.


Post a Comment

<< Home