Report: R. Allen Stanford Asked Representative Gregory Meeks to Get Help From Chavez

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Gregory Meeks, the U.S. representative for much of Queens, has been accused by the Miami Herald of being a pawn in alleged Ponzi-schemer R. Allen Stanford's efforts to undermine a whistle-blower. It's been known for months that Meeks accepted donations, travel, and lodging from Stanford and his nonprofit Inter-American Economic Council. The latter has spent over $22,000 since 2003 on airfare, hotels, and meals for Meeks and his wife in places like Montego Bay, Jamaica, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Sometimes, the couple even flies on Stanford's private jet. But it was only this week that allegations were made by former Stanford workers that he'd asked Meeks, a friend of Hugo Chavez, to ask the Venezuelan president to punish a man named Gonzalo Tirado. In 2006, Tirado accused Stanford of stealing from his banking operations in Venezuela (of which Tirado was president) and questioned whether his whole enterprise was a fraud. According to workers, Stanford asked Meeks to pressure Chavez into opening a criminal probe of Tirado. According to former federal agents eavesdropping on the call, Meeks agreed to convey the message to Chavez. Now, though, the New York representative has nothing to say about the story.

Gregory Meeks' trip to Venezuela on behalf of Stanford's bank raises ethics questions [Miami Herald]