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Politicians and Not-For Profit Corruption

Dear Editor: 

I wish I could say I was shocked by The Wave’s lead story last week but not-for-profit scams are all too common, especially among organizations that claim to serve our country’s most disadvantaged citizens. 

Certainly, the story is made worse by the participation of elected officials. However, even that is not shocking. Too many officials at all levels of government think they are owed more perqs and compensation than their large taxpayer-funded salaries provide. Most aren’t as brazen as Rod Blagojevich; kickbacks and non-for-profit schemes suffice – and provide plenty of cover. 

Perhaps that is one reason unethical lawmakers keep getting reelected… sometimes with little or no opposition. We seem to collect such politicians in Queens. Even prior to the apparent ABPRL scandal, Ada Smith, Shirley Huntley and Malcolm Smith were all convicted. Others are always on the outskirts of an ethics investigation. (I was at least amused that Senator James Sanders –no stranger to ethics allegations– is stepping in to “clean up this mess.”) 

What makes this story tragic is that poorer communities have greater need for strong representation (both civic and political). The American Dream is harder to pursue when you start with fewer assets and have crooked politicians riding your back.