House Speaker John Boehner said Friday that he was “not familiar with the details” of the unfolding campaign finance scandal involving Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY). Let’s bring him up to speed.
The New York Times reported this week that Grimm worked closely with Ofer Biton (a top aide to the orthodox Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto) back in 2009 to recruit the rabbi’s followers to donate to Grimm’s campaign. Together, they collected more than $500,000 for his campaign, helping convince Republican leaders Grimm was a viable candidate.
Now Biton is now under investigation by the FBI, which just happens to be Grimm’s former employer. Grimm himself is accused of accepting a cash donation of $5,000 “near the FBI building” and three followers of the rabbi told the New York Times that Grimm or Biton said they would find ways for the campaign to accept donations over the legal limit.
A complaint against Grimm has been filed with the Federal Election Commission by Paul Duffy, a Staten Island voter within Grimm’s district, who said in a statement that he was “deeply troubled by the serious allegations facing Congressman Michael Grimm and his fundraising tactics.”
Grimm, who had recently been on the road campaigning on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has strongly denied the allegations and hired a team of attorneys and public relations managers to handle the scandal.
“I never took any illegal cash contributions. Ever,” Grimm told a hometown newspaper, the Advance. “I never conspired or coordinated or ever in any way discussed funneling illegal contributions. It is absolute nonsense.”
Grimm said the idea that he, as a former FBI agent, would accept $5,000 in cash in an envelope outside of the FBI building in New York shows how “ridiculous” the allegations are.
“Not only are they saying I’m a criminal, they’re saying I’m a very stupid criminal,” Grimm said. “Everyone knows that that building is under surveillance for blocks. So why would I go where there’s surveillance to do a criminal act? That’s why I’m saying it’s preposterous.”