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Roll Call

Report: Ethics Investigating Meeks’ Finances

Updated: 9:19 a.m.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether Rep. Gregory Meeks repeatedly omitted information from his financial disclosure forms, the New York Post reported Sunday.

The newspaper, citing an unnamed source, reported the New York Democrat faces questions over his alleged failure to list at least one of his spouse’s sources of income, including her work for a public relations and advocacy firm and the City University of New York’s Queens College.

A Meeks spokeswoman did not return an e-mail request for comment Sunday evening.

Members are required to disclose the source of any income exceeding $1,000 earned by their spouse in the previous calendar year on their annual financial disclosure forms.

The New York lawmaker’s spouse, Marie-Simone Meeks, is listed as an employee of the New York Academy of Medicine on his financial disclosure forms for calendar years 2008 and 2009. Meeks does not list his wife’s salary, but he is not required to do so.

According to the CUNY Queens College website, Marie-Simone Meeks served as an adjunct professor during the spring 2008 semester, teaching two courses in urban studies and community organization. That position is not included on Meeks’ forms.

The conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research reports in its database of New York state and local expenditures that Simone-Marie Meeks was paid at a rate of $2,857 in 2008 and estimates that she earned $2,947. According to the website, the institute collected its CUNY data from the New York City Office of Payroll Administration.

The Post report also asserts Meeks failed to file information on his wife’s public relations and advocacy firm, the Lipscomb Lord Group.

No such firm appears on Meeks’ financial disclosure reports dating to 1997, according to a Roll Call review of those records.

The New York Department of State lists a 1999 business registration for a firm with that name, which remained “active” as of Friday.

The state website lists no registered agent for the firm, but the Far Rockaway, N.Y., address listed for the firm matches the Meeks home address at the time of the registration.

Simone-Marie Meeks is identified as a “principal” of the firm in a Newsday article published in 2000, and a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation newsletter issued in 2003 described Marine-Simone Meeks as the “principal of the Lipscomb Lord Group, Inc. specializing in public relations, event planning, and advocacy work.”

According to Meek’s calendar year 2002 disclosure, Simone-Marie Meeks received $9,000 for “consultant” work on the campaign of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

Federal Election Commission records indicate Simone-Marie Meeks received those funds, identified with a residential Maryland address, for fundraising work. There is no indication in those records that Simone-Marie Meek's firm did the work.

Both the watchdog groups Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Legal Policy Center called for ethics investigations of Meeks in 2010.

CREW requested that the Office of Congressional Ethics investigate whether a private loan Meeks received may have violated House rules. Members are allowed to accept private loans under certain conditions.

Meeks disclosed the $40,000 personal loan from businessman Ed Ahmad in his 2009 financial disclosure report. The Congressman reported the loan with a value of $50,000 to $100,000 on his disclosure form and revealed in an amendment that he first received the “interest-only personal loan” in 2007. He had not previously reported the funds, which he noted in another amendment to his financial disclosures in 2010 that he has repaid in full.

The OCE, which reviews potential rules violations and refers investigations to the House Ethics Committee, does not comment on its work. It is not known whether the OCE reviewed the loan.

NLPC called on the House Ethics Committee to review Meeks’ purchase of a new home in 2006, asserting that Meeks did not pay for the full value of the home, which was built by a local developer and campaign contributor.

Meeks has denied wrongdoing, telling the New York Times in 2010: “I live like most of the people in my district, paycheck to paycheck. ... Whatever I had I put into this house so I could have a decent place to live.”

Members are paid a $174,000 salary, according to the Clerk of the House.

According to records compiled by CQ MoneyLine, Meeks’ re-election campaign spent nearly $245,000 on legal services in the 2009-10 cycle.

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