A Brooklyn nonprofit under investigation by the city and the federal government for its ties to Assemblyman Vito Lopez received $63,337 from the state in this year’s budget – but it wasn’t a new member item.
Lawmakers stopped getting discretionary funding for their districts in 2009, but a residual pot of money remains. The Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council obtained a $1.9 million grant in 2004 to construct its youth center. The last of the grant is trickling through this year, according to the charity’s CEO James Cameron. “It’s way before my time,” he said. “When I heard about it, I was hoping it was a new grant that I didn’t know about.”
Lopez, who founded the nonprofit, has kept his distance from the charity since its former CEO and his longtime campaign treasurer, Christiana Fisher, became the subject of a probe in 2010 for allegedly falsifying tax documents to justify tripling her salary. She stepped down in January 2012 and pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators 11 months later. Lopez has been the subject of criminal and ethics investigations for sexual harassment charges that came to light last summer. He has missed votes in Albany for most of the year and been recuperating from pneumonia since mid-February.
This post has been updated to clarify that the money was from a member item, but that it wasn’t new this year.