Local Congressman Michael Grimm may come under FBI fire due to a series of allegations regarding his most recent campaign contributions.
Donors have come forward to say that they contributed illegally to Grimm’s 2010 campaign, according to the Associated Press. The donors, mostly congregants of Manhattan-based Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Grimm.
Grimm, a former FBI agent, denies the allegations. He also denies any knowledge of Pinto’s supporters lawbreaking donations.
“These allegations are so profoundly absurd that they serve as proof of the coordinated Democratic smear campaign designed to recruit a stronger opponent to challenge me,” Grimm said.
Pinto has not made any public comments regarding the scandal. However, disgraced former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner has stated that Pinto came to him to discuss Grimm’s involvement with the illegal donations.
“I can confirm the Rabbi did bring allegations to me and I can confirm that I turned them over to the FBI immediately,” Weiner said to Roll Call.
Last year, Pinto accused a former aide, Ofer Biton, of stealing money from the congregation. Pinto also accused Biton of working with public relations executive Ronn Torossian and planning to submit fake and defamatory stories to major Jewish and Israeli media outlets about him.
Both Biton and Torossian deny any charges in the blackmail conspiracy scheme.
CLARIFICATION (4/30/2012 at 9:29 p.m.): The allegations in this story came to light in a January New York Times story, and this report includes details that were first reported in March. A recent news item, however, confirms that the FBI is still currently investigating the allegations referenced here. We’ve added this clarification as Grimm expressed concerns that our report was no longer timely. However, he declined to answer any questions about the investigation and would not say whether there were any updates. – N.B.