Today’s news:

Meeks, Smith used campaign funds to pay attorneys’ fees

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) and state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), who are reportedly under investigation, have used their re-election campaign accounts to spend a collective $40,000 on lawyers, according to campaign finance disclosures.

Meeks and Smith were co-founders of the New Direction Local Development Corp., a charity that has come under fire for allegedly skimping on its promise to help Hurricane Katrina victims.

While the nonprofit raised tens of thousands of dollars for the cause, only a fraction of that amount was actually doled out, according to financial records.

Meeks is also reportedly under investigation for receiving a $40,000 personal loan from real estate developer Edul Ahmad in 2007 that the New York Daily News said the congressman repaid last month after the FBI questioned Ahmad about the arrangement.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said she could not confirm or deny any investigations.

Meeks’ campaign finance disclosure with the Federal Election Commission showed he spent $15,000 on legal services June 28 to the Manhattan-based law firm Dorsey & Whitney.

Smith paid lawyer Gerald Shargel $25,000 from his re-election campaign account Feb. 17, 2010, when scrutiny of New Direction picked up.

That expense was Smith’s largest of the year besides $36,476 he spent April 12 for a fund-raiser at Antun’s in Queens Village, according to state campaign finance records.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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