This month’s Albany/NYC scandal once again involves a very large, tax-funded, NYC based social service provider. In this case the organization is the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, which has $16.5 million in state contracts, and has a “synergistic” relationship with powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The Metropolitan Council’s long-time executive director and Silver confidante, William Rapfogel, is under criminal investigation by the Attorney General for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Council via kick-backs from over-payments to its insurer, the Century Coverage Corporation. Importantly, Rapfogel’s wife, Judy, is Sheldon Silver’s long-time chief of staff.
But the larger concern is that Rapfogel was essentially transmuting state social service tax dollars paid to the Met Council into political contributions via Century Coverage. According to the NY Times:
“company employees have given almost $120,000 to various candidates since the late 1990s, including $26,175 to several candidates in 2013.”
The AG is investigating whether Mr. Rapfogel directed Century Coverage and its chief executive Joseph Ross to use some over-payments from the Met Council as political contributions to NYC and NYS office seekers. (Ross is a former board member of the Met Council and close to Rapfogel.) Oddly, press accounts have detailed Ross and Century Coverage’s campaign contributions to NYC mayoral candidates, but not to Sheldon Silver. For the record, the Attorney General’s transparency site nyopengovernment.com/NYOG, shows Ross and Century contributed at least $7,000 since 2006 to Silver or SpeakerPAC – which Silver directly controls. For whatever reason, on July 30, 2008, SpeakerPAC appears to have refunded a $4,500 contribution to Century.
Contributions from Joseph Ross and Century Coverage to Sheldon Silver
03/30/2011, $2500 from Century Coverage to Friends of Silver. (ck 22824)
07/30/08, Refund(?) $4,500 payment from SpeakerPAC to Century Coverage. (ck 5052)
06/07/06, $4,500 from Century Coverage to SpeakerPAC. (ck 17154)
06/07/06, $4,500 from Joseph Ross to SpeakerPAC. (ck 2757)