This latent controversy hasn't attracted much attention for the last few years, but new allegations against the Park 51 Islamic community center and mosque's most prominent advocate may vault it back into the public's consciousness. Remember Imam Feisal Rauf? He may be in some legal hot water, especially if charges of substantial tax evasion are corroborated:
The imam and former spiritual leader of an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero is accused in a new lawsuit of defrauding donors to his nonprofit organizations of millions of dollars, using the money for personal real estate, lavish trips and a luxury sports car. The suit against the imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, was filed on Monday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan by Robert Leslie Deak, a major donor to the imam’s nonprofit organizations, the Cordoba Initiative and the American Society for Muslim Advancement. Mr. Deak said in the suit that he donated $167,000 between 2006 and 2008 to a project to combat anti-Muslim sentiment. Instead, the suit alleges, Mr. Abdul Rauf used the money for entertainment and other personal purposes. The lawsuit also accuses the organizations of not reporting on their tax returns approximately $3 million that the Malaysian government donated to the two organizations. Instead, according to the suit, that money was also taken by Mr. Abdul Rauf for his personal use.
Rauf, who parted ways with the mosque project in 2011, strenuously denies the accusations. He's innocent until proven guilty, of course -- but if that burden of proof is met, it will be interesting to see how some of his most vocal political supporters respond. Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg will find a way to blame a Tea Partier again; those demons do like their sugary soft drinks and their freedom, after all.