The House Ethics Committee has put on hold a probe into Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), following a request from the Department of Justice, the committee said in a statement released Monday.
The committee had been looking into whether Grimm solicited and accepted donations that violate campaign finance laws, included false information on campaign finance reports, and improperly received fundraising help from a foreign national in exchange for a promise of help getting a green card.
“The Department of Justice has asked the Committee to defer consideration of this matter and the Committee, following precedent, unanimously voted to defer consideration of this matter at this time,” said the statement, issued by committee Chair Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL) and ranking member Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA). “At least annually, the Committee will make a public statement if it continues to defer taking action on the matter. The Committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.”
Grimm won reelection earlier this month, despite months of reports in the media about federal scrutiny of his fundraising. The FBI apparently began looking into Grimm (himself a former FBI agent) following a January New York Times article that raised questions about the role an aide to Manhattan Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto played in Grimm’s campaign. Several members of the rabbi’s congregation 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.” In August, Biton was arrested by the FBI for lying on immigration documents.
In a statement to Politico on Monday, Grimm’s lawyer, William McGinley of Patton Boggs, said his client has done nothing wrong.
“Today’s announcement by the House Ethics Committee comes as no surprise. We appreciate the Committee’s decision to defer consideration of this matter while we continue to work with the Department of Justice to favorably resolve the false allegations against Congressman Grimm,” McGinley said. “Any fair and objective review of all of the facts in this matter will conclude that Congressman Grimm engaged in no wrongdoing. We are confident that the Department of Justice and the Ethics Committee will reach that result.”
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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