Washington, D.C. – From lining his own pockets to a questionable interaction with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) is one of the most ethically challenged members of Congress.  The congressman from Queens is being investigated by both federal law enforcement and the House Ethics Committee.  It’s no wonder he’s been named by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) as one of the Most Corrupt Members of CongressClick here to read the full report on Rep. Meeks.

“Given the breadth of his misdeeds, it is surprising Rep. Meeks hasn’t found himself in handcuffs already,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.  “While the Department of Justice has let far too many corrupt politicians off the hook, hopefully Rep. Meeks will be the exception to the rule.”

In 2007, Rep. Meeks bought a home in Queens for at least $170,000 less than it was worth. Rep. Meeks also received a $40,000 loan with no interest rate or payment schedule from businessman Edul Ahmad.  When asked about the loan’s purpose, Rep. Meeks told the New York Daily News it was for “family obligations” and to “make sure the house is furnished.”  After the FBI interviewed both men about the matter, Rep. Meeks repaid the loan in full by securing another loan from a campaign donor.  Rep. Meeks failed to include the loans on his financial disclosure forms and the House Ethics Committee is also investigating.

In 2006, Rep. Meeks was contacted by financier and donor R. Allen Stanford, who asked the congressman to speak with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez about a legal dispute he was having with Gonzalo Tirado, the head of his Venezuelan bank. Rep. Meeks agreed and traveled to Venezuela, ostensibly to thank the dictator for providing heating oil to Americans.  Mr. Tirado was indicted by Venezuelan authorities in 2007.

“It’s one thing to accept gifts of real estate and cash.  It’s a whole new level to reach out to dictators on behalf of any donor – the fact that it was Allen Stanford just makes it creepier,” said Ms. Sloan.  “It seems there is nothing Rep. Meeks won’t do for cash. He needs to be held accountable for his actions.”

This is the 7th edition of the CREW’S Most Corrupt Report, an annual look at a bipartisan collection of Washington’s worst.  This year’s list includes seven Democrats, and 12 Republicans.  Five are repeat offenders.  Since 2005, CREW has named 70 members of Congress to the list, 32 of whom are no longer in office.