U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the leading Democratic contender for Florida's open U.S. Senate seat, told The Miami Herald editorial board today that he knew his mother was helping developer Dennis Stackhouse try to build a bio-pharmaceutical park in Liberty City -- but not that she was a paid consultant.
Meek sought federal funds for the project and said he never knew Stackhouse had paid $90,000 to his mother, former Congresswoman Carrie Meek, and leased her a Cadillac Escalade. Stackhouse never built the project and is charged with stealing $1 million in public and private loans.
"Everyone in the community was excited was that there was someone willing to invest and put together a team to bring about economic development,'' Meek said. "There weren't a lot of people banging on the door to do that. Of course the congresswoman was a local consultant, that was not a secret, in helping to pull together the team. It had nothing to do with my willingness to put in for appropriations for a project in Miami-Dade County, which I did.''
Meek addded: "As it relates to my mom, she's an independent woman...She's always been a leader in her own right. She's always had a leased Cadillac, which is interesting because people just assume she's a financially challenge person, but she has two pensions. She has a private consulting company like many members of Congress have. There was no question for me to say -- there was Cadillac 1,2,3,4 -- where did Cadillac 5 come from, or where did three come from? I didn't ask those questions. I didn't balance her checkbook.
"But what I did learn out of this process was to pay closer attention to what my own mom was doing and what others were doing...Obviously she's not going to take on any clients that have anything to do with federal application of assistance."
Asked about her current stable of clients, Carrie Meek said she has just one: Alcalde & Fay, the law firm, which subcontracts with her to lobby -- wait for it -- the federal government on behalf of Miami-Dade.