Although he continues to deny wrongdoing, the investigators looking into Congressman Michael Grimm’s 2010 campaign fundraising have escalated the inquiry, launching a grand jury to add pressure to would-be witnesses.
The Daily News reported yesterday that at least two campaign workers interviewed by the FBI’s public corruption unit also received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury.
Sources told the Daily News that the grand jury is a way to pressure political operatives, staffers and volunteers to speak voluntarily to investigators – or face a subpoena from the grand jury.
“Let’s say, so far, it is a tool to get people’s attention – that we are serious about our questions about the congressman,” a law enforcement source told the Daily News.
The investigation has been spurred on by claims from congregants of prominent Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto. Pinto said the congressman pressured Pinto and his congregation for donations to the campaign, and several of the congregants have already made separate statements to investigators that Grimm accepted illegal campaign contributions from them – including an envelope full of cash.
Earlier this week, the independent Office of Congressional Ethics closed its own inquiry into Grimm’s alleged misconduct, ruling there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
The panel, however, only examines the conduct of representatives while they are in office. The allegations against Grimm’s campaign activities precede his time in Congress.