Rep. Gregory Meeks Pays Company Owned by Chief of Staff's Wife With Campaign Funds

Dem aide's wife has collected more than $150,000 from campaign since 2008

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.), left, smiles as he has a friendly exchange with Rep. Charlie Rangel (D., N.Y.) in 2015 / AP
January 30, 2017

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) has paid more than $150,000 to a company owned by the wife of his New York chief of staff since 2008, a review of campaign finance records shows.

Meeks, who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 1998, has employed Robert Simmons in his New York office as chief of staff since 2006. Simmons is the second highest-paid staffer on Meeks' payroll, earning a yearly salary of around $95,000, according to data from Legistorm.

Robert Simmons' wife, Patsy, is listed as the treasurer for Friends for Gregory Meeks, the congressman's campaign committee. Campaign committee treasurers are typically unpaid friends of the politician.

However, acting as treasurer has proved lucrative for Patsy Simmons. Patsy has profited quietly from Meeks' campaign, earning more than $100,000 in a scheme revealed by the New York Post seven years ago.

Payments from Meeks' campaign committee are not made out directly to Simmons. Instead, the committee cuts checks to Einna Inc., a company Patsy registered in 2008, according to New York business records. Little information is available publicly about the company, which does not appear to have even a website.

Public filings also show that Einna has received thousands more from the Build America PAC, the congressman's leadership PAC.

Einna received seven payments from Meeks' campaign committee totaling $49,500 for "administrative consulting services" during the 2016 election cycle, campaign finance records show. The firm received an additional $11,000 from the Build America PAC, the most the PAC paid to any vendor during the 2016 cycle.

Friends of Gregory Meeks pushed $33,800 to Einna during the 2014 cycle, while Build America gave an additional $7,000.

Einna received $66,300 from Meek's campaign committee between 2008 and 2012. The Build America PAC made no payments during this period.

In total, Patsy Simmons' company has received a total of $167,600 from the campaign committee and leadership PAC since 2008.

Meeks' office did not return requests for comment on the payments.

In addition to paying thousands to the family members of his staff, Meeks purchased a new Lexus as a campaign vehicle. On Oct. 23, 2015, Meek's committee made a $13,722 down payment at a Lexus dealership in New York. The campaign has been making $968.60 monthly payments on the vehicle.

Update 2:40 P.M.: An earlier version of this story stated Robert Simmons earned around $70,000 annually. It has been amended to say that Simmons actually earned nearly $95,000 in 2016, the last year with full salary data available.

Published under: Ethics