At least four people who worked on the 2010 campaign of Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) have been questioned by the FBI, according to news reports.
The FBI began looking at the Staten Island lawmaker’s fundraising after a January New York Times article raised questions about the role an aide to Manhattan Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto played in Grimm’s campaign. The newspaper found three members of the rabbi’s congregation who said that either Grimm or Pinto’s aide, Ofer Biton, “told them that the campaign would find a way to accept donations that were over the legal limit, were given in cash or were given by foreigners without green cards.”
According to The New York Daily News, four people connected to the Grimm campaign, both campaign operatives and volunteers, have been questioned in the last two weeks. An Assistant U.S. Attorney was reportedly present at one of the interviews. From the Daily News:
One of the people questioned by the FBI told the Daily News the recent interrogation involved “general kinds of questions” and described them in this fashion: “Who was in charge? Who contacted donors? How was money collected? Who went and collected the donations?”
The Staten Island Advance reports that some of the interviews took place at Federal Plaza in Manhattan. A person who had been interviewed told the Advance that there had been “very limited” talk about Pinto or Biton.
Grimm, himself a former FBI agent, gave a statement to the Advance through the D.C. law firm Patton Boggs.
“We are of course familiar with the FBI inquiry and we welcome the news that it is heading towards completion,” Grimm said. “…I look forward to a speedy resolution and am confident that I will be fully vindicated. I’ve done nothing wrong and any fair and thorough inquiry will come to the same conclusion.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com