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Meeks reflects on life and takes on critics

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 2/9/2012, 12:39 p.m.

Editor's Note: Last week, the Amsterdam News began a two-part profile on the life and political career of Rep. Gregory Meeks. Meeks is one of only four Black congressional representatives in the state of New York, despite the fact that New York has more Black people than any other state. Last week's article focused on his early life and rise to political prominence. This week's piece focuses on some of the charges and allegations made by the infamous New York Post, which in recent years has attacked many Black political and religious leaders, including most viciously Rep. Charlie Rangel, former Gov. David Paterson, the Rev. Floyd Flake and State Sen. Malcolm Smith.

Last year, the New York Post alleged that Rep. Gregory Meeks and State Sen. Malcolm Smith hadn't properly documented the spending of money from a charity established to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. In March of 2010, Meeks released a statement on what he called unfounded and non-credible allegations made by the National Legal Policy Center (NLPC) and referred to the group's "well-established partnership" with the Post.

"The NLPC is a right-wing, inside-the-Beltway organization with an explicitly stated partisan agenda," he wrote. "It is led by right-wing activists who have found themselves involved in scandal and targets of investigation as a result of their questionable actions to influence elections."

The NLPC is the same organization that assisted in the humiliation of Rep. Charlie Rangel over issues involving real estate in the Dominican Republic.

This year, the Post has continued its offensive against Meeks with a story published last month that stated that secret meetings were held in the congressman's district in the event that he was forced to resign or expelled from Congress. It also alleged that Meeks is considering resigning from his position. Meeks wrote a statement to Howard Schwach, managing editor of local newspaper The Wave, asking them to stop mouthing the Post's words because they're false.

"You repeated the claim of a secret meeting and the fiction that I am considering resigning or that I might be ousted from Congress despite the fact that the day after the Post article appeared, every individual named in it publicly denied that a secret meeting or any such discussion had ever taken place, and in fact forcefully reiterated their support for me," wrote Meeks.

Later, Meeks didn't mince words when speaking with the AmNews as he reiterated his stance on the Post and the NLPC.

"I think that they know that I'm close to President [Barack] Obama," said Meeks. "They know that we're trying to do things for the empowerment and economic development of people who have not had it before. And so, the New York Post has gone into a partnership with a right-wing group. They're in cahoots with the New York Post to try and go after African-American legislators. I happen to be one of them now.

"They had Malcolm Smith's name in there a lot when he was majority leader," continued Meeks. "When Charlie Rangel was getting close to power, they came together and tried to put stuff out on a consistent basis that is not accurate and not truthful. And then they tried to strip the president of voices and advocates that will go out there and help him get reelected. It seems to me that it is quite clear that the Post and this group are in a conspiracy together to try and undermine me."

Meeks also referred to the reporting in the Post as "unscrupulous" and "unethical." He said that he is not going to let the Post and its minions at NLPC limit his agenda or other Black leaders. "They're not gonna stop me from doing what I need to do," Meeks said. "We're gonna get President Obama reelected. We're gonna empower the community."