Sunday, June 11, 2006

Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.'s immoral public money expenditures

It wasn't surprising to see the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. (and New York State Senator) dive once again into the issue of marriage rights for same-sex couples on the same date that the New York State Court of Appeals heard arguments about the constitutionality of allowing gays to marry (check out this essay in The National Review online). After all, he was a lead plaintiff in one of the briefs asking the Court not to allow same-sex couples to marry.

What is surprising is how anyone can take him seriously considering the series of investigative reports by James M. Odato at the Albany Times-Union exposing the immoral way that the Reverend redirected public funds meant to aid poor children in the Bronx towards his political campaigns (as well as his son's), to pay salaries for phantom jobs to which his current wife and ex-wife were named, and towards his Christian Community Benevolent Association.

Today Mr. Odato interviews three former Diaz employees who are speaking up (one of them anonymously for fear of retaliation) and confirming some of the Reverend's dirty deeds.

The Times-Union articles have mostly failed to get any traction by New York City media but have shined an unwelcome light on how Albany legislators use so-called "member items." In a separate piece, Mr. Odato reports that the Diaz scandal might be just the tip of the iceberg and exposes questionable allocations of "member item" funding including moneys flowing to a Bronx charity controlled by former State Senator Guy Vallela (despite the Senator being removed from office in 2004 for taking brives) and a $108,593 cushy salary for Brooklyn Assemblymember Vito Lopez' girlfriend (who only has to work for 25 hours a week).

As for our state leadership? Well, both Senate Majority leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are united in one thing: Refusing to release a listing of how these public moneys were spent and telling the Times-Union that the public does not have the right to look at the information.

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