Sunday, November 2, 2008

Miguel Martinez

Councilman sent $406G to nonprofit with sister on board
BY BENJAMIN LESSER, FRANK LOMBARDI and GREG B. SMITH
DAILY NEWS, Friday, April 25th 2008


Manhattan City Councilman Miguel Martinez has shipped hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a nonprofit group where his sister sits on the board of directors, a Daily News probe has found.

This fiscal year, the Council awarded the Upper Manhattan Council Assisting Neighbors $669,000 in so-called discretionary funds, of which $406,000 was sponsored by Martinez alone, records show.

Martinez's sister Maria has been a member of the nonprofit's board since 2005. She is listed in city records as the group's secretary. Councilman Martinez's photo is posted on the group's Web site under the title "Major Sponsor."

Martinez did not return calls seeking comment, but the group's director, Hector Santana, said the councilman's sister was an unpaid volunteer board member at the nonprofit.

Santana said board members decide how to spend the group's money. He said there were no other relatives of Martinez working at Upper Manhattan.

Miguel Martinez revealed this conflict in new disclosure forms required of all Council members for the first time this year.

The form, which has no date, reads, "My sister sits on board of the organization," and attaches a list of nonprofits with a check mark next to Upper Manhattan Council Assisting Neighbors.

Santana acknowledged that Upper Manhattan got little city money in the years before Maria Martinez joined the board.

After that, records show, the Council awarded Upper Manhattan $75,000 in fiscal 2006 and $124,111 in fiscal 2007. This year, it topped $600,000.

"The money is definitely being spent where it's supposed to be," Santana added.

It's impossible to independently confirm whether Maria Martinez has received any compensation from the nonprofit because the group has not filed tax forms.

Santana said the group did not take in enough money to require tax filings before 2005 and was preparing to file its 2006 form in the coming weeks. He said Miguel Martinez is "a supporter of many organizations and this is one of them."

Martinez's funding for Upper Manhattan came out of several programs, including an immigration initiative and an anti-gang initiative.

The News reported Wednesday the city controller has frozen the $11.2 million immigration initiative pending review. On Thursday, The News learned the $1 million anti-gang initiative has also been frozen.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn has acknowledged that some of the Council's "discretionary" funds were assigned to fictional nonprofits to hold the funds for later distribution to real groups.

That unusual procedure and specific allocations are the subject of a probe by the city Department of Investigation.

Two aides of Councilman Kendall Stewart (D-Brooklyn) have been charged with embezzling $145,000 from a nonprofit funded with Council money.

The News has revealed that Councilman Erik Dilan (D-Brooklyn) funneled $187,000 into a nonprofit run by his wife, and Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo put $82,000 into a nonprofit that employed her sister and nephew.

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Martinez Fined for Campaign Violations
From the Inwoodite, 18 January 2008

Inwood City Council Member Miguel Martinez has been fined by the city's Campaign Finance Board for violating campaign finance laws.

According to the New York Times, the board claims the Martinez camp received reimbursements for expenses that it could not account for during the 2001 campaign, when the District 10 councilman was first elected. The CFB says receipts submitted by Martinez as proof of the expenses appeared to be fabricated, including some that contained an identical typo and others that were written using the same Microsoft Office template.

“If these were genuine expenditures, the campaign was unable to produce documents that showed it,” said Eric Friedman, a spokesman for the board. “Nor were the vendors. And they didn’t come back to us with records that were convincing to the board.”

The penalties were issued jointly against Mr. Martinez, his campaign committee and its treasurer, Placido Rodriguez.

Dick Dadey, executive director of the government watchdog group Citizens Union, called it one of the worst abuses in the history of the city’s campaign finance program, which began in 1989. “He wrongly took taxpayer dollars for his 2001 campaign and spent them on very questionable and unknown expenses,” Mr. Dadey said.

Martinez and Rodriguez were fined $44,780 and ordered to repay $127,786 in matching funds. The CFB says it is one of the most severe penalties it has ever levied.

Martinez, who sued the board over the allegations in 2004, continues to deny wrongdoing. He may appeal the decision.

According to the CFB, Martinez was fined over $31,000 in 2006 "for misrepresenting the source of contributions" in his 2003 campaign.

Council District 10 includes parts of Inwood, Washington Heights and Marble Hill.

Related on Inwoodite:
• Tuesday Showdown Between Old Friends
• Locals Tire of Espaillat, Martinez Feud

Posted by Brad on 18 January 2008 in CITY COUNCIL, POLITICS Permalink
Comments
I hope it's not true, but if it is, this is perhaps among the most shaming part of the story in the Times:

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The board got the injunction lifted on appeal, and in June reissued a detailed list of 11 violations totaling $84,000, which would have been the largest ever assessed for a City Council race.
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Because, again if the charges are true, it isn't run-of-the-mill New York political abuse, it's Tammany Hall level corruption.

But if that's the case, then why would this just be a fine assessed by the Campaign Finance Board and not an actual criminal indictment? Is something fishy about that, or is this just the way the city handles campaign finance violations?

1 comment:

Stacy said...

The non- profit organizations have a great disadvantage .. that can be taken by unscrupulous individuals illicit enrichment apparatus. not if the case of Miguel Martinez but undoubtedly bought many buy viagra with this money