By Ivan Pereira
Taxpayer money that was distributed to education groups with close ties to state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) has caught the state attorney general’s eye, according to a published report.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued subpoenas to the nonprofit Parent Information Network Inc., which is run by Huntley’s daughter Pamela Corley, and another group called Parent Information, which the senator created before she was elected to office in 2006 and was formerly run by one of her staffers, the Associated Press reported.
The subpoenas request information from the groups about grant money that was distributed to them from discretionary funds distributed by Huntley, who sits on the Senate Education Committee, according to the AP.
The attorney general’s office and Huntley declined to comment about the ongoing investigation. The senator’s district includes the neighborhoods of Jamaica, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and parts of Forest Hills.
Parent Information Network received more than $400,000 in state Assembly funding between 1993 and 2008 to advise parents how to “navigate New York City schools,” according to records from the state Department of Education. Two requests made by the Assembly in 2006 for grants to the group, which totaled $33,000, and another request made two years later for a $30,000 grant, were not approved, the records show.
Some of the money was allocated by state Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica), who the AP said dispensed $30,000 in taxpayer dollars to the group in 2008.
Cook did not return phone calls for comment.
In 2008, Huntley also awarded Parent Information a state grant of $30,000 for training and supplies, according to the AP. In that same year, the nonprofit’s president, Patricia Savage, ended her term as the head of Parent Information and joined the senator’s staff as a “confidential assistant” and earns $85,000 a year, the AP reported.
Campaign finance records show Corley and Savage were paid thousands of dollars by Huntley ï»¿for various events over the last couple of years.
In July, Corley was paid $1,000 for consulting, the next month she was paid $5,000 for polls, and in September she was paid $2,400 for “office” and more than $37,000 for wages, according to state campaign finance records.
Savage was paid $425 in July 2009 for literature, $974 in September 2009 and $1,100 in December 2009 for fund-raising, campaign finance records show. Last January, she was paid more than $573 for “office,” a month later she was paid $400 for a Census kickoff and in November she was paid $200 for refreshments and $5,000 the next month for consulting services, according to campaign finance records.
The U.S. attorney’s office is also investigating U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) and Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) over a nonprofit they created. The investigation into the now-defunct New Direction Development Corp. began after the charity’s income and spending practices were questioned.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.