Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…..but a charity has just been exposed as a reported scam!
And yes, the charity was ran by lawmakers.
And yes, the lawmakers were Democrats.
What are the odds, huh?
Here’s the bombshell statement, from the Daily Caller:
The caucus of black New York state lawmakers runs a charity whose stated mission is to empower “African American and Latino youth through education and leadership initiatives” by “providing opportunity to higher education” — but it hasn’t given a single scholarship to needy youth in two years, according to a New York Post investigation.
Some people might call that a TOTAL FRAUD!
Here's more, from the NY Post:
A nonprofit run by state lawmakers to raise scholarship money for needy minority students spends most of the cash on its lavish annual soiree — including $6,000 on limos — and gave out no grants the last two years, The Post has learned.
The New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators organizes a “Caucus Weekend” — a series of workshops, concerts and parties — in Albany every February for minority members of the Assembly and the Senate.
The group charges sponsors up to $50,000 for a chance to party with lawmakers at events that have included Grammy Award-winning rappers and high-profile speakers such as Hillary Clinton and Jesse Jackson.
The Presidents Day weekend bash is capped off with a swanky black-tie Scholarship Gala where participants are reminded that they are “changing lives, one scholarship at a time,” according to the group’s Web site and literature.
But in the last two years there has been no cash for scholarships, according to two sources — a former lawmaker, and a community organizer who has relied on the money for needy students since just after the group was founded in 1985.
Federal tax filings confirm that in the 2015-16 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 2016, the group gave out no educational grants — despite raking in contributions totaling more than $500,000.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, a Westchester Democrat and the longtime treasurer for the group. “I just sign the checks they give me to sign.”
While students went without scholarships, the lawmakers at Caucus Weekend 2016 spent $128,000 on “food service,” $36,500 on music and $56,494 on “equipment rental.”
The group failed to furnish The Post with the subsequent year’s tax filings — October 2016 to September 2017 — despite a federal law requiring it to do so.
The group had its charitable status temporarily revoked in 2011 by the IRS after it failed to file tax returns for three consecutive years, according to federal tax documents.
When asked why the group had not given out any money to students in either year — even though scholarships are the heart of its stated mission — the lawmakers who manage the nonprofit refused to answer. The group is chaired by a president who serves a two-year term.
Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, a Brooklyn Democrat, the current chair of the nonprofit’s board, who is campaigning to be the city’s public advocate, said through a spokesman that she “does not have any knowledge of the matter.”
State Sen. Leroy Comrie, a Queens Democrat and second-ranking board executive, did not return phone calls and e-mails, and would not emerge from his St. Albans district office when a Post reporter visited Friday. Queens Assemblywoman Michele Titus, a Democrat and the former chairwoman in 2015-16, did not return messages seeking comment.“Money comes from the events and we have a lot of bills associated with the events,” Pretlow said.
In the 2014-15 fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015, the group spent $157,926 on “food service,” $6,332 on limousines and $30,657 on “event decor,” according to tax filings. It also spent $3,000 on the Sunday preacher.
Of the $564,677 the group received in contributions that year, only $35,745 went to scholarships, a little more than 6.3 percent of total revenue.
Charity watchdog groups such as Charity Navigator recommend that at least a third of a nonprofit’s revenues go to its stated purpose.
And here's more, from the Daily Caller:
The group collects money from companies like AT&T, the Real Estate Board of New York, Time Warner Cable and CableVision, telling them in promotional materials that they are “changing lives, one scholarship at a time.”
The group — called the Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc. — instead spent $500,000 in the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year on items like food, limousines and rap music, the Post found.
The politicians refused to divulge the charity’s 2017 tax filing to the Post despite federal requirements that charities do so upon request.
Its main activity is holding and selling tickets to an elaborate party each year intended to raise money for its stated mission of providing scholarships for youth. But year after year, essentially all the money simply seems to go to festivities.
Its chairman, Assemblywoman Latrice Walker of Brooklyn, claimed to have no knowledge of the charity’s failure to fulfill its mission. She told the Post through a spokesman that she “does not have any knowledge of the matter.” Walker is running to be the public advocatefor New York City, its second-highest elected position and one tasked with investigating complaints.
Walker did not return The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment, which included a request that she share the charity’s latest tax filing.
The charity’s treasurer, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow of Westchester, expressed no knowledge of the charity’s activities.
“I just sign the checks they give me,” he said.
State. Sen. Leroy Comrie of Queens, the group’s number two, refused to come out when Post reporter Isabel Vincent stopped by his office. All of the politicians mentioned are Democrats.
“The real purpose (of the charity) is to bring people to get over their apathy and out to Albany and get motivated,” the charity’s former chairman, Assemblyman Nick Perry of Brooklyn, previously said.
There has been no money used for scholarships in the past two years, the Post reported, citing sources. That’s even after the Albany Times-Union called out the charity in January 2017 for meager spending in prior years.
The charity gave $35,745 of its $564,677 in revenue to scholarships in the 2014 to 2015 fiscal year, according to the Post. That year, it spent $85,000 on a concert with Eric Benet and Regina Belle, and $157,000 on food, according to the Times-Union’s analysis of its tax filings.
Now the big question is whether Letitia James, the Democratic AG of New York, and a noted Trump-hater, will put politics aside and investigate and prosecute this alleged charity fraud?
Time will tell.
Here's some background on James, from Bloomberg:
Letitia James, the newly elected Democratic attorney general of New York, promised during her acceptance speech Tuesday to investigate Donald Trump’s real estate dealings.
“New Yorkers, we can spot a con man,” James, the first African-American and the first woman elected to the office, said to a cheering crowd in Brooklyn. “We can spot a carnival barker. I will shine a light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing.”
James, the New York City Public Advocate, also promised to protect minorities and immigrants who she said are under attack by the Trump administration. Her predecessor, Barbara Underwood, is involved in numerous lawsuits challenging Trump policies in court and sued Trump’s personal charitable foundation alleging rampant violations of state law.
“At a time when we’re seeing such vitriol, and such hate on a national level, led by someone who is supposed to be a voice for all Americans, I am proud to stand here as a New Yorker who knows that it’s our diversity, our strength, our courage and our determination that makes us great,” James said.
Underwood wasn’t elected but filled in for Eric Schneiderman after the longtime state attorney general was brought down by allegations of abuse against multiple woman.