Nonprofit Newswire | Rangel Said to Push Grant to Shaky Nonprofit

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August 8, 2010; Source: New York Post | If embattled Democratic New York Congressman Charles Rangel thinks attention to ethics allegations against him are going to die down anytime soon, the New York Post isn’t helping much. In what it billed as an “exclusive,” the paper claims that Rangel help steer $2.6 million in a taxpayer-funded grant to a New York City social services agency in such shaky financial health that even the granting agency’s own finance director argued against the award and then left after it was approved.  The grant to Alianza Dominicana was approved on June 29 by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone — on whose board Rangel sits — just weeks ahead of the release of the report from the House committee that accuses the congressman of ethics violations. The group, which is building a $19 million headquarters building, is already having trouble paying workers, building suppliers, and IRS, among others.  It also took out loans totaling $5.3 million, backed by the Empowerment Zone, which distributes tax money to improve the local community.  According to the Post, Alianza is banking on rent from commercial tenants in its new building to pay off the loans.  However, the paper adds, the now-departed Empowerment Zone finance director said because of Alianza’s long history of money troubles, giving it another grant would be irresponsible.

So far, Rangel is standing by his support for the grant.  A spokesman, Elbert Garcia said, “This is not some fly-by-night operation. Of course the congressman supports them. They’ve done a lot of good for the community.” The newspaper says that Rangel and Alianza founder Moises Perez are close, and that Perez has contributed thousands of dollars to the congressman’s campaigns over the years.  Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, which the Post describes as a conservative ethics watchdog group responsible for several of the ethics complaints against Rangel, said support for Alianza is just another example of the congressman’s “special interest favoritism.”—Bruce Trachtenberg