A Democratic power broker with longstanding ties to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been fired from his job at a Jewish charitable organization. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
William Rapfogel has been fired from the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, an organization that receives millions of dollars in public money.
The Metropolitan Council cut ties with Rapfogel, claiming it has uncovered misconduct in connection with the organization's insurance policies.
"You know, I know Willie for many years. He's accessible. He does so much public good. I was shocked when I read it," said Zev Brenner of Talkline Communications Network. "But you know, I'm sure a lot of facts have yet to come out, and I don't think we should judge until we have all the information at our fingertips."
In a statement, Rapfogel said through his attorney, "After 21 years at the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, I deeply regret the mistakes I have made that led to my departure from the organization."
Rapfogel is the husband of Judy Rapfogel, chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
In a statement, Silver said, "I am stunned and deeply saddened by this news. While there is still much that we don't know, we do know that the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty has given tens of thousands of New Yorkers of all faiths and backgrounds life-saving help over the last four decades."
"In that sense, he was really this nexus of political and Jewish communal power that had him having very important relationships with local, state and federal officials on behalf of the Jewish community at large," said Josh Nathan-Kazis of The Forward.
The Metropolitan Council currently has contracts with various state agencies totaling roughly $16.5 million. The organization also receives member items, but it appears as though more of that money came through the New York City Council than the state legislature.
"He also is a large and important power player in the Jewish community on the Lower East Side, where he is part of a fading breed of powerful Jews who have shaped that neighborhood for generations," Nathan-Kazis said.
Both the New York State Comptroller's office and the New York State Attorney General's office confirmed that they are working on a criminal investigation through what is known as the Joint Commission on Public Integrity. Both offices declined to offer any specifics.