Meeks Discloses $35,000 Legal Tab

Posted July 16, 2010 at 11:50am

Rep. Gregory Meeks, who has drawn FBI scrutiny for a personal loan in recent months, doled out $35,000 from his campaign coffers to pay legal bills in spring 2010, according to a campaign finance report filed Thursday.

It is not clear whether the expenditures are related to Meeks’ recent disclosure of a $40,000 personal loan from businessman Ed Ahmad. A Meeks spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment.

The New York Democrat reported a one-time payment of $15,000 to the New York office of the firm Dorsey & Whitney in late June, and two payments to Perkins Coie totaling $20,000.

The New York Daily News reported earlier this month that the loan, which Meeks revealed in his most recent financial disclosure report filed with the House, had drawn the attention of the FBI.

Meeks, who reported the loan with a value of $50,000 to $100,000 on his calendar year 2009 financial disclosure, revealed in an amendment that he first received the “interest-only personal loan” in 2007. He had not previously reported the funds.

He told the New York newspaper that he had repaid the loan, which he took out for purchases related to a home he bought in 2006.

The ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington requested the Office of Congressional Ethics investigate whether the loan was made in violation of House rules.

The OCE reviews alleged rules violations and recommends formal inquiries to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, also known as the ethics committee. The OCE does not confirm whether it is reviewing allegations.

Earlier this year, Meeks’ office also received a subpoena in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

His office declined in March to detail the materials being sought, but in a notification letter to the House, he indicated the subpoena requested documents from the district office and did not indicate any request for documents or depositions from Meeks himself.

It is not known whether that subpoena is tied to a federal investigation of an organization founded by Meeks and a New York state lawmaker, which was reported by the New York Post in February.

At that time, the Post reported the Justice Department was 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.

Meeks has previously denied day-to-day involvement in the charity, stating to media outlets that he did not play an operational role in that group.