ALBANY – A non-profit organization run by minority state legislators, which for at least two years has failed to distribute scholarships to African-American and Hispanic youths, wrapped up its sumptuous Sunday of "Caucus Weekend Without any mention of scholarships.
The Association of Black and Puerto Rican Lawmakers of the State of New York generally devotes the bulk of its contributions – over $ 500,000 in fiscal year 2016-2017 – to three days workshops, cocktails and its annual scholarship gala.
In the past two years, no money has been given to students, according to tax records obtained by The Post.
Non-profit board members, including former Mayor David Dinkins, former Comptroller General Carl McCall and Brooklyn Latrice Walker Assembly Speaker, declined to comment on the reason for the group did not allocate funds to needy students.
The group's long-time treasurer, Gary Pretlow, a member of the Westchester, told dozens of conference delegates during the Sunday worship service hosted by Majority Leader of the Democratic Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and the President of the Senate. Assembly, Carl Heastie, that 90% of donations went to the organization.
Pretlow then urged the delegates to "rummage in their pockets" to help the white-hued ushers go up and down the aisles of Godbeon's first church church with wicker baskets, while a choir sang. "Go on your knees and pray.
There was no mention of scholarships.
Some delegates, who included Democratic lawmakers as well as union representatives and lobbyists, told The Post that they were unhappy with being asked to pay more money to the group.
This year, a mandatory $ 25 registration fee was added to attend conferences, networking cocktails and dance parties sponsored by lobbyists and politicians at the Albany Hilton.
According to the group's website, delegates disbursed up to $ 530 for the weekend conference package, which did not include accommodations. Tickets for the awards gala were $ 225 each.
More than 1,000 delegates invaded the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on Sunday for a three-course meal hosted by Miss America's Nia Franklin and featuring two of the event's sponsors, AMC and OvationTV. The speeches of Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries were presented at the dinner.
When contacted by The Post in December 2018 for the first time about the group's failure to award scholarships, Pretlow said, "I'm just signing the checks they give me. "
Founded in 1985 "to empower young African Americans and Latinos. . . by offering the opportunity to pursue higher education ", the non-profit organization has in the past given only a small percentage of its donations to students.