Incoming state Attorney General Letitia James said Monday she is*“troubled” by a Post reportthat the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators raised more than $1 million in charitable contributions over two years and didn’t provide a single scholarship to needy students.
“Attorney General-Elect James is troubled by the reporting on this matter,” said her spokesperson, Delaney Kempner.
“As Attorney General, she will pursue the facts of any allegation wherever they may lead.”
The AG’s office regulates tax-exempt, not-for-profit and charitable groups and has sued the Trump Foundation for alleged improper activities before it was dissolved in a settlement.
The Post on Sunday revealed that the legislative not-for-profit raised more than $500,000 in both 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 for its lavish annual galas in Albany.
But there was no money left scholarships, which is part of the group’s charitable mission, according to records filed with the government.
Records show the lawmakers at “caucus weekend” in Albany spent $128,000 on “food service”, $36,500 on music and $56,494 on equipment rental. Other expenses in 2015-2016 included $45,309 for “advertising and promotion.”
The group also spent thousands of dollars in limo services over the years to transport guests to and from the conference in style, tax records show.
The organization’s chair claimed in a statement Monday that while it had financial problems in the past, she cleaned them up upon taking over in October 2017 and resumed giving out scholarships.
But Assembly member Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn) didn’t provide any specifics — such as the amount of the scholarships, who got them and when they were distributed.
“When I became Chair of the organization in October, 2017, there were many financial deficits, but I am proud to say that after alternative protocols and procedures were put in place, the organization is fiscally sound,” Walker said in a statement.
“Under my leadership, we have given out — and will continue to give out – scholarships to those most in need…” she added.
Walker would not release the group’s IRS filing for 2016-2017 — although it is required to do so under federal law.
Another not-for-profit group tied to state lawmakers was more forthcoming.
Somos Inc. — the charitable group created by New York’s Hispanic legislators — gave out $93,985 in scholarships and awards in fiscal 2017 and $81,400 the prior year, records show.
The group also raised $233,540 for Hurricane Maria recovery efforts in Puerto Rico over the past year thanks to generous financial backers, Somos executive director Jose Paulino said on Monday.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former state senator and member of the Black and Puerto Rican Legislators organization, also said he was concerned about its finances after seeing The Post report.
“He is looking into the matter,” an Adams spokesman said.
The group’s treasurer, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Westchester) said holding the annual gala is expensive.
“More work needs to be done on fundraising. Reducing expenses is in the works,” he said