The surprise firing of power broker William Rapfogel: four Forest City Ratner angles, including Barclays Center charity event and campaign support for Tish James challenger
The powerhouse social service agency blamed "financial irregularities and apparent misconduct in connection with the organization’s insurance policies" and sources told the Times could involve improper campaign contributions.
2) The Barclays Center chose to give the Met Council--and a music camp--profits from a 2/28/13 cantorial concert. Shouldn't investigators look into any ulterior motives, like buffing the developer's relationship with Silver as a prelude to that Seward Park bid?
3) The position of Rapfogel's son Michael, a Forest City VP of External Affairs who's the developer's chief legislative liaison, has to become a little uncomfortable, though he is of course not responsible for his father's actions.
Two people briefed on the investigation said the lawyers were concerned that Mr. Rapfogel might have been overpaying the council’s insurer, Century Coverage Corporation of Valley Stream, N.Y., and then directing the insurer to make political contributions to his favored candidates.The Daily News quoted a source as saying that arrangement went back to 2009. If true, there's no glaring pattern.
Given the Met Council's broad interest in good relationships with elected officials, it makes sense that such donations--if directed by Rapfogel--were spread broadly, such that mayoral candidates Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio scrambled to return them.
[Rapfogel's] conduct is now being investigated by the state’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, and comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, as part of a new anticorruption task force.Rapfogel apologized for unspecified “mistakes” and expressed deep regret. The Times noted:
Mr. Schneiderman and Mr. DiNapoli would not say what their concerns were, and the Met Council said in a statement only that it had retained a lawyer to investigate “financial irregularities and apparent misconduct in connection with the organization’s insurance policies.”
Mr. Rapfogel has been a well-respected figure in New York’s Jewish community and in its political world. He was an aide to Mayor Edward I. Koch and to the city comptroller Harrison J. Goldin; before the council, he worked as executive director of the Institute for Public Affairs of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and of the local branch of the American Jewish Congress.According to Rapfogel’s lawyer, neither Silver nor Judy Rapfogel knew about the conduct at issue.
According to its web site, Century Coverage provides "insurance and risk management products and services to businesses, organizations and individuals," and was established in 1951. Its CEO, Joseph Ross, was a co-chair of Met Council's annual Builder's Lunch event in August, 2011, according to Met Council's web site.
A high salary
Rapfogel has also been subject of headlines regarding high pay for nonprofit directors. As the Forward reported in Feburary 2012:
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s order, which would cap at $199,000 the amount of state dollars that could be used for an executive’s salary, would likely not impact most Jewish institutions because they don’t rely exclusively on state cash, experts said.
But New York Jewish charity officials are pushing back anyway, because they question the focus on compensation at charities.
...William Rapfogel of the New York-based Metropolitan Coucil on Jewish Poverty, earned $435,000 in 2009, including benefits and deferred compensation, and his organization took in nearly $100 million in government funding, including contracts with state agencies. But his salary wouldn’t be impacted, either, as he can be paid out of other revenue streams.