Twi$ted web of political nonprofits in Bx.
Last Updated: 6:09 AM, August 26, 2012
Posted: 12:27 AM, August 26, 2012
She installed a boyfriend, Vincent Pinela, as head of the Bronx Council for Economic Development, a taxpayer-funded nonprofit he admits being unqualified to run. He alleges she used the group to fund their dates and her campaign.
But the council is only one nonprofit of many organized under the Hispanic Federation, which has taken in $24 million in taxpayer money since 1998.
The men run a private political consulting firm, the MirRam Group. It’s paid by the Hispanic Federation and is hired by politicians who steer taxpayer money to the nonprofit.
A Post investigation has found:
* The Hispanic Federation paid MirRam and Miranda Towns, a firm registered to Miranda and his wife, $681,644 between 1999 and 2008 for “consulting,” records show.
* In 2005, the federation paid MirRam $88,000 to survey Latinos on topics including the mayor’s race. At the same time, MirRam was paid $1.37 million by Fernando Ferrer, then a mayoral candidate.
* Ramirez and Miranda gave political allies jobs at the nonprofit. Ex-Secretary of State Lorraine Cortez Vazquez, who had been Ramirez’s chief of staff, made more than $180,000 a year there.
* The federation paid MirRam $33,000 this year to lobby the City Council, records show.
* The group often pays out small amounts, from $400 to $800, to individuals without detailing why. A source in the group said these are sometimes payments for favors.
“This lady is going to bring seniors to an event. I have to pay her,” the source said as an example. “I promised to send her to the Dominican Republic with her family.”
A federation spokesman said they were for families of victims of American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed in Queens in 2001, or other people in need.
Miranda launched the federation in 1990, the year Ramirez won an Assembly seat in Fordham. Ramirez left politics in 2000 and handed the party reins to Assemblyman José Rivera, father of Naomi, in 2002.
Insiders say that if you want influence in The Bronx, you have to deal with the federation and, by extension, MirRam.
Nonprofits, for instance, pay the federation to do their bookkeeping. Pinela said his Bronx council was charged $12,000 a year for federation services.
Every year, the federation throws a fund-raising gala packed with politicians. Its bash at the Waldorf-Astoria last Apri1 brought out mayoral hopefuls City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson and New York Giant Victor Cruz.
But the blurring of a nonprofit and a consultant group means there’s little accountability, said the source in the organization.
“If we were helping the Little League around the corner to get bats or gloves . . . the ends justify the means,” the source said. “But when you are giving extra money to a senior center because they delivered people to a [political] event, it’s a different story.”
A federation spokesman called the allegations “simply untrue,” saying it only provides funds for those in need of disaster relief.
As for payments to MirRam, the group noted that Miranda was no longer its president and MirRam is “arguably the top Latino lobbying and strategic consulting firm in our city.”
Additional reporting by Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/bronx/twi_ted_web_in_bx_Fxatn1KxaBpb4reW6SaeqI#ixzz24fZQNEf4