In lawmakers’ scholarship charity, more money flows to parties

The stated “main goal” of the ritzy event — this year’s will be held at the Hilton Albany — is to “raise scholarship money for minority youth entering college,” according to a note from Queens Assemblywoman Michelle Titus, the chairwoman of the charity that runs the event, that appears on the nonprofit’s website. At the upcoming Feb. 17-19 event, eight separate receptions, dances or concerts are planned, running from Friday night to late into Sunday evening, according to a schedule posted online. […] while the exact amounts of funding given by event sponsors are not clear, the charity receives substantial amounts of money from entities with business before the state legislators that participate in the annual gathering. The Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc. is the nonprofit arm of the state Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, a potent voting bloc in the Assembly that includes Carl Heastie, the chamber’s Democratic speaker. In the nonprofit’s official program for the 2015 retreat, then-Chairwoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes — an Assembly member from Buffalo — stated that “we intend to double the amount of scholarship funds given to students in their respective districts.” “[…] it’s always the goal of that year’s chairs to increase the number of scholarships given, but that’s solely determined by dinner ticket sales,” she said. Besides a concert and the annual gala, the charity pays for an invite-only “chair’s reception,” awards ceremony and a VIP reception, according to Peoples-Stokes’ office, but it does not pay for other receptions sponsored by various groups. There is overhead for the event which includes the space rental for the educational forum, workshops and seminars, craft expo & business partnership fair, dinner gala and entertainment in addition to the scholarships. The political action committee of the powerful New York State United Teachers union has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the lawmakers’ charity. Since 2011, 24 donations have added up to $126,000. According to a list provided by the charity, the sponsors for 2016 included many of the same entities, as well as Airbnb, AT&T, the Real Estate Board of New York, Time Warner Cable, CableVision and StudentsFirstNY, a pro-charter school group that hosted one of that weekend’s panel discussions. In 2015 — the most recent tax year to be reflected in public records — the charity reported spending $6,200 on “limo services,” $24,500 on an event speaker, $85,000 on a concert, $157,000 on food service, $64,000 to rent equipment, $43,000 on accounting services, $36,000 on printing, $30,657 on “event decor,” $4,500 on “awards and certificates,” and $43,000 on “hotel accommodation.”

0
0