Monday, September 16, 2013

Times digs into investigation of the Met Council's Rapfogel; will it touch Silver and/or Forest City?

The New York Times today has a fascinating follow-up on the surprise firing last month of William Rapfogel, longtime leader of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, which was the recipient of Barclays Center charitable proceeds and partnered with Forest City Ratner on a bid to redevelop the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.

As the article, Whistle-Blower’s Letter Led to Charity’s Firing of Chief Executive, reveals, a former employee of the charity’s insurance broker reported that money was being skimmed from payments the Met Council made for health insurance, and investigators believe Rapfogel kept some of the money and directed the rest to support political campaigns.

As the TImes notes, "The scandal has the potential for significant political ramifications," given Rapfogel's longtime friendship with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, for whom his wife Judy Rapfogel is chief of staff.

I wonder if it will touch Forest City Ratner and/or the Barclays Center.

Questionable contributions

The Times cites some questionable contributions, in which Century's Joseph Ross was "listed as an employee of Met Council, which could suggest he supplied incorrect information to the campaigns to project the benefits upon the charity" and in which Rapfogel served as bundler for other contributions.

I'd add one more. As I wrote last month, why would way-out-of-district resident Deborah Auletta, a Century employee, give $175 to Delia Hunley-Adossa's longshot 2009 challenge to popular 35th District Council incumbent Letitia James, the leading Atlantic Yards opponent?

I speculated that if Rapfogel was whispering suggestions to the company, it's not implausible that he might have gotten an idea from his contacts at Forest City. They didn't give money to Hunley-Adossa. But they surely had an interest in her candidacy.

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