Transparency forces NY Dems to back away from shady earmark 

This is more than just a story about Congressmen using taxpayer money to help former staff cash out and prepare the way for themselves. The dollar amounts in this story are small, but it has to be one of the shadiest earmark stories I've ever seen:

Brooklyn Rep. Ed Towns tried to steer $5.3 million in taxpayer money to a nonprofit that employs one of his staffers, the Daily News has learned.

The group, Trinity Community Development and Empowerment Group Inc., lists a vacant building as its address and a total of $329 in revenue on its 2008 tax filing.

Towns' sponsored $500,000 for the group, and joined with Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) to get Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) to sponsor another $4.8 million for Trinity.

Late Thursday, Meeks and Towns withdrew both requests after the Daily News raised questions about conflict of interest caused by Towns' staffer. Clarke did not return calls...State Senate Majority chief John Sampson also sponsored a $10,000 member item for Trinity in fiscal 2010 for "community development."

Towns also sponsored a $500,000 earmark for Trinity last year, the article notes, and it is unclear whether they got the money. Trinity is in an abandoned building with a year-old eviction notice tacked to a door on the third floor. The staffer in question was working part-time for Towns, part-time for Trinity.

Where do you suppose all of this state and federal money went or was going to end up?

Rep. Towns is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

More on Rep. Meeks, from The New York Times.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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