January 3, 2013 | 5 views
Gregory Meeks cleared of ethics violations
The Office of Congressional Ethics has closed its investigation of U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks after finding no credible evidence that his errors in failing to disclose a loan as a liability on his 2007, 2008 and 2009 Financial Disclosure Statements were knowing or willful.
Meeks, a Democrat from St. Albans, was re-elected to his eighth term in November, receiving 89.7 percent of the vote, and now represents the redrawn 5th District, which includes areas of Valley Stream, Elmont, Inwood and Floral Park, as well as southeast Queens.
Meeks received a loan in 2007 from Edul Ahmad, which he failed to disclose in a timely manner. But the Ethics Committee unanimously decided that Meeks did not knowingly make the error.
“I am pleased with the Ethics Committee’s decision, and I am glad that this matter is now closed,” Meeks said. “With this matter behind me and much work yet to be done, I am looking forward to serving my constituents with continued commitment and vigor on the many critical issues that face our district and our nation.”
According to the Office of Congressional Ethics, Meeks has corrected the omissions in his Financial Disclosure Statements with amendments that were filed in June 2010. The committee concluded, therefore, that no further action was warranted.
It also investigated the allegation that the Ahmad loan was not accompanied by a written document and stated loan terms, and constituted an impermissible gift, but the evidence did not support that allegation.
Meeks maintains that the loan was documented, and had a set repayment schedule and rate of interest, but he had misplaced the documentation, according to the OCE. In June 2010, Meeks repaid the loan and stated that he had paid an interest rate of 12.5 percent.
Ahmad, who has since pleaded guilty to fraud charges in an unrelated federal criminal case, was unable to be interviewed by the committee during the investigation. The OCE said that Ahmad’s attorney informed the committee that his client would decline any request for a voluntary interview and, if subpoenaed, he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights unless the committee gave him immunity from criminal prosecution. Ahmad’s attorney also said there was no additional documentary evidence relating to the loan his client gave to Meeks.
“My work in Congress,” Meeks said, “on the heels of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, demands urgent focus on the need to strengthen federal gun laws in ways that will help prevent such heinous violence. We must work in a bipartisan manner to avoid a new fiscal crisis that will harm middle class Americans, and to get critical funding to my district and other areas that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. This is where my focus remains.”