Queens congressman Gregory Meeks is in deep trouble because of his alleged political favors to accused swindler Allen Stanford in an international intrigue involving Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chavez, the Miami Herald reported in a weekend blockbuster, “Feds probe banker Allen Stanford’s ties to Congress.” For some reason, New York City dailies, as of midday today, have ignored the fact-filled package of stories.
D.C. lawmakers went on numerous Caribbean junkets courtesy of alleged international lawbreaker Stanford. And some of them apparently became the financier’s fast friends. The FBI captured this February 17 e-mail from powerful Texas Republican congressman Pete Sessions to Stanford just hours after Stanford was indicted for swindling $7 billion from investors: “I love you and believe in you. If you want my ear/voice — e-mail.” [signed] “Pete.”
Neither Sessions nor Meeks has commented so far on any of this shocking, yet somehow predictable, stuff. But you’d have to say that Meeks can no longer be considered a do-nothing congressman with little clout.
Unlike Meeks, Sessions has major clout on Capitol Hill: He’s the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
(More on the probe of Meeks and his record as a congressman on the jump, along with links to earlier Stanford stories.)
The Miami Herald scoop, which names several other lawmakers, devotes a separate story to the Meeks allegations. An excerpt from the story by Rob Barry and other reporters, based on FBI wiretaps, e-mail intercepts, and other documents:
The president of [Stanford’s] bank in Venezuela, [Gonzalo Tirado], had turned on Stanford after being accused of stealing from the company, filing a lawsuit and publicly questioning whether Stanford was orchestrating a fraud.
Enraged at his former executive, Stanford placed a call in March 2006 to Democratic House member Gregory Meeks with a rare request: Go to President Hugo Chávez and seek a criminal investigation of … Tirado.
Meeks, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, agreed to carry the message, according to two former U.S. federal agents working for Stanford who were listening to the call on speakerphone.
And, if the accusations are true, Meeks actually got the job done. More from the Herald:
[Meeks] would travel to Venezuela a month later for a series of meetings with Chávez and other leaders. A year after that visit, Venezuelan prosecutors indicted Tirado on charges of swindling and tax-evasion.
Meeks’ trip to Venezuela was billed as a mission to express gratitude to Chávez and other leaders for a program that provided heating oil to Americans in the Northeast, press reports state. There was no mention of any discussion about Stanford, whose Venezuelan bank was one of the most successful in his business network.
That was in 2006. Stanford gave Meeks more than $12,000 in campaign cash just in 2008, the Herald noted.
If the allegations of Meeks’s influence-peddling are true, then it’s one of the rare examples of his really having much influence on anything.
One of the six-term Democrat’s few leadership positions is that he chairs the Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade in the House Financial Services Committee.
You’d think a subcommittee with that title would be influential and/or prominent, especially during the past couple of years of financial chaos; it’s not.
The most recent hearing held by the subcommittee was way back on March 12, according to the House Financial Services Committee official website. Meeks doesn’t even list that subcommittee on his own page of committee assignments.
For Meeks’s record, go to his own official web page, click on “Legislation” and then click on “Sponsored Legislation.” That takes you to the official House legislation site. You’ll see that Meeks sponsored one bill and one resolution in 2008 and no bills or resolutions — zero, nada — in 2009.
The only bills or resolutions sponsored by Meeks that seem to have actually been passed, according to the official congressional website, were his June 2007 resolution “recognizing the 50th anniversary of Malaysia’s independence” and his May 22, 2008, resolution that read as follows:
House records reveal that both were approved on voice votes.
• “Tires slashed, banks besieged, billionaire on the lam”
• “When Stanford got the royal treatment”
• “Checkmate: Game over for Sir Allen Stanford”