10:28 am Aug. 27, 2012
State Senator Shirley Huntley pre-empted her arrest and arraignment today with a press conference on Saturday, surrounded by supporters who helped her tell the media that she was innocent of any alleged wrongdoing.
The accusations against Huntley allege that she steered public money to a non-profit organization which ultimately benefited her family and friends. Among the people who joined her at the event on Saturday was Bishop Charles Norris Sr., the executive secretary of the Clergy United for Community Empowerment.
Norris has been publicly defending Huntley, including adding his name to a list of clergy supporting her re-election, which Huntley's campaign released after her Democratic primary opponent, Councilman James Sanders, was endorsed by the Rev. Floyd Flake, a former congressman and influential figure in southeast Queens politics.
Norris though, is also a beneficiary of Huntley's work in the Senate.
According to a search of state data on SunlightNY.com, Norris' organization, Clergy United for Community Empowerment, Inc. received $75,000 in appropriations from Fiscal Year 2007 through Fiscal Year 2010, at the request of Huntley.
When I called Clergy United and asked for Norris, a woman gave me the number to the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens, where Norris is the lead pastor. Norris did not immediately respond to a detailed message seeking comment.