Urban Policy Chief Says He's Proud of Record
By Robin Shulman
NEW YORK -- Adolfo Carrión Jr., the new director of the White House Office of Urban Policy, battled back today after prosecutors in the Bronx said they were looking into allegations of wrongdoing while he served as Bronx borough president.
"I built a reputation for integrity and dedication to my constituents, and I am proud of my record serving the people of the Bronx," said Carrión in an email.
His statement came after an official from the Bronx District Attorney's Office said prosecutors were investigating Carrión's hiring of an architect to design a porch and second-floor deck for his home on City Island while the same architect was working on a major housing project under review by Carrión's office.
"The facts, as reported, raised questions that we are looking to get answers to," said Steven Reed, a spokesman for the Bronx DA.
Carrión recently acknowleged that he has never paid the architect for the work on his home renovation, which began in late 2006 and was finished in early 2007, because a final survey--which would finalize the renovation with the city--has yet to be filed.
"As is his practice for projects of this kind, the architect will present his bill and be paid after the final survey is completed and filed," he said.
Meanwhile, Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics, a nonpartisan government advocacy group, on Thursday sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a federal investigation of Carrión in connection with bribery and honest services fraud. The group cited the unpaid architect, and Carrion's receipt of campaign contributions from developers near the time he approved zoning changes for their projects and committed taxpayer money to them.
"The timing of the contributions and his official actions are suspect and I find the story about the nonpayment to the architect not credible," said Melanie Sloan, the executive director of the group.
The New York Daily News reported earlier this month that in January 2007, plans for a large housing project called Boricua Village were submitted to Carrión's office for examination.
The project included 679 affordable units of affordable housing, space for stores, and a 14-story tower for Boricua College. Less than a month after an application for the project was filed in March 2006, Carrion received eight donations in one day from Boricua College administrators, totaling $8,750, the Daily News reported. Officials at Atlantic Development Group, the project's developer, also contributed to Carrión while the project was moving through the review system.
The borough president has the power only to offer advice and cannot derail a proposal. Still, other officials later in the review process take the borough president's views into consideration. In March 2007, Carrión recommended the zoning changes for the project to the City Planning Commission, which approved them.
Meanwhile, Hugo Subotovsky, the architect who worked on this project, had recently finished his work on Carrión's home. Subotovsky's firm recorded 51.5 hours of design work on Carrión's home for a total bill of $3,627.50. Carrión said in his email that it was his fault the architect was not paid, because Carrión failed to request a final survey until the Daily News raised the issue, and he had not received a bill.
A woman who answered the phone in Subotovsky's office said the architect was out of the country on vacation and could not be reached.
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, told reporters during a news conference on Wednesday that the administration expected the final survey on Carrión's home to be completed soon and for Carrión to pay the bill.
"There can be no question that as Bronx borough president, I complied with all applicable campaign regulations and laws," said Carrión.
Patricia E. Gaston
March 12, 2009; 8:21 PM ET
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