I've written quite a bit about Randy "Duke" Cunningham, William "$90,000-in-the-freezer" Jefferson and other assorted crooked politicians. However, it's pretty clear that American politicians are amateurs compared to the professionals who call the United Nations their workplace.
An article in Tuesday's New York Sun by Claudia Rosett reveals that before taking the top job at the U.N., Kofi Annan was leasing an apartment that was part of the Mitchell-Lama housing development program intended for low- to moderate-income New Yorkers.
That's right, New York taxpayers were subsidizing Annan's apartment.
This is outrageous, yet old, news because Annan hasn't lived in that apartment for a decade (the U.N. secretary general has a rent-free residence elsewhere as part of his job). Or is it?
It seems that Annan somehow, a decade ago, managed to get the lease for the apartment transferred to his brother, Kobina Annan, Ghananian ambassador to Morrocco.
What does the Ghananian ambassador to Morroco need with a New York City apartment? Apparently not much. He lives in Morrocco. His son, Kofi Annan's nephew, lives in the apartment now.
No one is saying that any of the Annans have broken the law; the regulations for Mitchell-Lama housing allow a certain amount of flexibility once applicants have obtained a lease. But the issue is pertinent because Kofi Annan, whose wife comes from one of Sweden's wealthier families, has spent years lecturing Americans on how the well-heeled have obligations to those less fortunate. Those low- to moderate-income New York families for whom such accommodation was built face a four-year waiting list.
The effective New York state subsidies for such an apartment appear to be large. Roosevelt Island sits in the East River, with a view of the United Nations. The residences are part of a quiet enclave with a riverside promenade, just a few minutes from high-rent Midtown. The apartment in question, a three-bedroom unit on the ninth floor, appears from the outside to have a river view looking out on Manhattan. At market rates, according to local real estate agents, a three-bedroom apartment on the island currently rents for about $4,500 a month.
A subsidized apartment, like the one linked to the Annans, rents for less than half that amount, or just under $2,000 a month. While some allowance might be made for wear and tear, the current effective taxpayer subsidy for the Annan apartment could, by a conservative estimate, amount to upward of $10,000 a year, or even as much as twice that, which, over a decade, adds up to a significant sum.
If the Annans haven't broken the law, then they should have. If there is a perfectly legal way for these wealthy foreigners to get an apartment subsidized by the taxpayers, then the New York legislature needs to fix this program so this doesn't happen.
Kofi Annan is a corrupt crook. If he were a Republican, the media would be all over him for his illegal doings, as Rosett notes.
The questions about the Annan apartment are not the first about various Annan family ventures to have emerged only to go unanswered.
The secretary-general misled the press for years about the nature of his son's business involvement with the Oil-for-Food program. When asked at a press conference last year about a Mercedes that his son shipped into Ghana in 1998 under false use of the secretary-general's name and the U.N. seal, Mr. Annan ducked the question by accusing the reporter of being a bad journalist.
Q: I would wish you good luck and goodbye and hope you have a good time when you go underground; and when you surface please do come and see us sometimes….
Q: I’d like to say, is that in your time in office, you have given hope to millions of dispossessed people. And for that, I would say, you will be well remembered…
Q: There seems to be a buzz in the building about more manager-CEO than diplomat-rock star. Maybe that’s directed at you. Is that the best way to go forward for this new administration?
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, first of all, I’d like to thank you, for the past 10 years, for all your answers on the Balkans, some of which you helped me to make even headlines. …
Q: Dear Mr. Kofi Annan, first, on behalf of the Islamic Republic News Agency, I deeply want to thank you for your 10-year service and accomplishment. Good luck for your future journey…
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I’m going to use the word “transparency” rather than “corruption”…
Welcome to bizarro world. Excuse me while my head explodes.