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Archive for the tag 'michael grimm'

grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm and Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia filed their latest fundraising totals earlier this week, with the incumbent just barely edging out his opponent in available cash.

Grimm’s April filing shows that he raised $345,000 over the last filing period, giving him just under $1.2 million to spend.

Recchia, meanwhile, posted $206,000 in cash raised, bringing his total to approximately $1.07 million.

Grimm’s filing, however, also showed that he’s carrying more than $450,000 in debt, largely due to legal expenses connected to the investigation into his 2010 fundraising. While the congressman hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, several close associates have been questioned or arrested, and prosecutors appear to be gunning for the incumbent.

Diana Durand

Diana Durand

Diana Durand, a former beau of Congressman Michael Grimm who was arrested in January for illegally funneling money to the Republican pol’s campaign, will not implicate the congressman in the scheme, squashing a plea deal.

The Daily News reports:

“This is not about Dianna Durand. This is about Michael Grimm,” [Durand's attorney Stuart] Kaplan told the Daily News Tuesday. “They think that she is in a position to provide information about him.”

Kaplan said the case is headed to trial. Prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York are expected to seek an indictment of Durand in the next few weeks.

Durand, 47, was cuffed in January and charged with violating federal campaign laws to steer money to Grimm. Prosecutors say she found and used straw donors to accept donations that exceeded the $4,800 legal maximum to support his 2010 campaign. She faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.

According to Durand’s lawyer, her prosecution is part of an effort to bring down the congressman, but his client has nothing to offer. He said that Durand’s actions were driven by ignorance of the law, and the pol wasn’t aware of her actions.

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Colton and Salgado (Source: Salgado via Twitter)

Assemblyman Bill Colton claims he’s staying out of the congressional race in the 11th District, currently occupied by Michael Grimm, until the candidates up their game and talk about “substantive issues.”

Here’s the statement he issued this morning:

“As a local Assemblyman and voter in the 11th Congressional District of New York, I am still waiting for a substantive discussion between the announced candidates on the needs and the future of the district. Thus far, voters, including me, have had to deal with distractions ranging from bar activities, reporter intimidation, the Brooklyn residence of the former Councilman, talk of packing punches and sizing up opponents, the neutrality of a local Assemblyman, and a back and forth on who did more during Sandy. What I, and many other voters, am waiting for is a substantive plan, with a track record to support it, to involve federal agencies to help stop the building of a dangerous garbage station in Southwest Brooklyn, cut bureaucratic red tape to get Sandy recovery dollars to reach impacted families and communities, to see federal dollars be used to address our antiquated infrastructure, to use federal aid to expand healthcare services in the outer-boroughs, and to see federal officials take aggressive stands against senseless school co-locations that will harm our children. Those are the issues I am closely following and care about. My endorsement is something I take serious because it bears my name on a person or an idea I strongly believe in and am informed about. I refuse to be influenced by party affiliation alone or the power of incumbency when making such an important decision. The voters expect and deserve more. The voters of the district have not been given a fair opportunity to be informed on the platforms of these candidates to help address the pressing issues of our day. Ultimately, voters who may have lost their homes due to Sandy could care less about the neutrality of an Assemblyman, but rather care more about a plan to help them rebuild their homes, communities, and lives. This race is not about the candidates running and not about my position on them. Public service is about serving families, addressing their needs, and caring for their future. Until we hear more about that and less about pettiness, I will continue to reserve my endorsement in this race.”

It sure has been a less-than-virtuous campaign so far. The two presumptive nominees, Grimm and Democrat Domenic Recchia, have focused more on slugging each other in the character arena – or just straight-up making an ass out of themselves – than having a discussion about the issues.

But is Colton really steering clear of the fray? His response comes on the heels of – and, likely, in response to – reports over the past few days that he’s been helping former mayoral candidate and Staten Island-based Evangelical pastor Erick Salgado mount a primary campaign that would pit him against Recchia, with whom Colton has an ongoing feud with.

Salgado even tweeted out a photo of himself with Colton, thanking the local pol for his help setting up an exploratory committee.

As for Salgado, it’s not exactly like he doesn’t know how to word a nice character attack himself. Here’s what he told Politicker last week about his potential campaign against Grimm:

“All I can tell you is that with Erick Salgado, you’re not going to have a pretty face in Washington, but you’re going to have someone who looks out for the needs of the people.”

Substantive indeed.

Source: Recchia campaign

Source: Recchia campaign

Former City Councilman Domenic Recchia on Saturday officially announced his bid for the 11th Congressional District, the seat currently occupied by Republican Michael Grimm.

Recchia made the announcement before a crowd of supporters in front of his mother’s Staten Island home, where he and a host of lawmakers backing him took aim squarely at his opponent and the Republican party.

Politicker reports:

“I won’t be going to Washington to carry water for my party. I’ll be caring for the hopes and dreams of the people I’m there to represent–you,” Mr. Recchia told the crowd. “I’ll make you one more promise: I will continue to conduct myself honorably because my mom wouldn’t have it any other way. We all know that Mr. Grimm can be a little pugnacious.”

… “Well, starting now he has to pick on somebody his own size,” Mr. Recchia said.

… Mr. Recchia is looking to ride the demographic and ideological shifts underway in the traditionally Republican borough. While a Republican mayoral candidate won the borough in last year’s general election, President Barack Obama eked out a victory there two years ago. Left-leaning, minority voters are also increasingly populating Staten Island’s north shore, where Democrats like Mr. Recchia have performed well.

Although Grimm’s campaign has been the subject of a federal probe into fundraising improprieties, much of the statements at the weekend rally instead focused on recent headlines depicting Grimm as a short-tempered brute. They zeroed in on his well-publicized comments to a NY1 reporter, who he threatened to throw off a balcony in Washington after the reporter asked about the fundraising allegations. Former Congressman Michael McMahon targeted the allegations that Grimm had a sexual romp with a woman in a Bay Ridge bar.

Congressman Jerry Nadler said at the rally that the district needs a congressman who will be respected by his colleagues and the public.

“Nobody respects Grimm,” he said. “Nobody intelligent can respect Grimm.”

Grimm, meanwhile, had a campaign rally and fundraiser over the weekend, drawing approximately 240 supporters, SILive reports. There, he taunted Democrats for their weak showing in Staten Island, promised a ferocious campaign, and said that the seat would remain staunchly Republican for years to come.

SILive reports:

He predicted an outsized victory in November.

“But we’re not just going to win,” he said. “We’re going to run away with this election. We’re going to let them know this is a contact sport.”

For Democrats who say that the congressional district is in play, Grimm said, “Guess what? The Staten Island/Brooklyn seat is not vulnerable, is not up for grabs. It’s a Republican seat. So go home. Don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your money. This one is ours.”

Grimm’s supporters also seemed to derive glee from the congressman’s apparent mistreatment of members of the fourth estate. On threatening physical harm against the NY1 reporter, former Staten Island GOP Chairman Robert Scamardella drew laughs when he mocked the national outcry.

“Oh, the inhumanity of it,” Scamardella said to laughter from the crowd.

It appears Grimm’s Staten Island supporters are not shaken by those headlines either. Both candidates marched in Staten Island’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, where SILive interviewed attendees.

Staten Island resident Chris Chiafullo told the outlet he would vote for Grimm, and didn’t see the threats being much of a concern in the borough.

“The balcony thing maybe made a difference outside Staten Island, but not here,” he said.

Although Staten Island surely remains the district’s base, the Brooklyn portion has grown in the latest round of redistricting. While the seat before covered Bay Ridge and a sliver of Bensonhurst and Gravesend, it has now swelled to include almost all of Gravesend and a hunk of Sheepshead Bay.

 

Pinto (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, a rabbi with ties to the FBI investigation into Congressman Michael Grimm’s 2010 campaign fundraising, is going to be indicted in Israel for attempting to bribe officials, looting a charity and other charges, according to Haaretz.

The rabbi is also named in a separate New York State Supreme Court civil complaint alleging that he and others with ties to the congressman’s campaign attempted to intimidate a business rival, including “ordering” a New York City police officer to arrest the rival.

The newspaper lists the Israeli charges in more detail:

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto is suspected of systematically collecting information about senior police officers, demanding that some of them be replaced, threatening an officer, offering bribes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and intimidating witnesses, according to a document prosecutors sent to Pinto and his wife, Rivka, a few weeks ago.

In New York, businessman Tomar Shohat is seeking unspecified damages from Pinto and a top Pinto aide, Benzion Suky. Shohat and Suky were partners in a real estate venture, Metro Apartments. But Shohat claims Suky mismanaged the business, possibly funneling money to his own benefit and operating the building as an illegal hotel.

From the Forward:

Shohat allegedly brought his findings to Pinto, who asked Shohat not to report them to the police. Later, according to the complaint, Pinto and Suky threatened to have Shohat injured or to have him arrested by Patino if he continued to investigate irregularities at the building.

When Shohat continued his investigation and reported his findings to the Metro board, he was allegedly threatened again, this time by Pinto’s brother, Menachem Pinto, who is also a defendant in the suit. Suky then accused Shohat of theft and, according to complaint, Pinto and Suky “arranged for…Patino to arrest [Shohat] and charge him with crimes he had not committed.”

Shohat was arrested February 21, 2013. According to the complaint, Patino first told Shohat he would be let go if they could eat lunch together and talk. Later, after Shohat’s attorney had come and gone, Patino allegedly told Shohat that he would let him go if he gave Patino his computer, which contained data about the Metro Apartments investigation.

Following the arrest, Patino filed a felony complaint against Shohat accusing him of stealing $15,000 from a locked petty cash container at 440 West 41st Street. The D.A.’s office filed a motion to dismiss the charges in April.

Patino works both as an NYPD detective and a real estate agent with a commercial real estate brokerage called the Azad Propety Group, according to his LinkedIn profile. Azad Property Group does not have a listed phone number.

Pinto and Suky both have ties to Congressman Grimm. Another top Pinto aide, Ofer Biton, allegedly funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Pinto’s flock to the congressman’s 2010 campaign. Investigators believe that may include funds from foreign donors and donations that exceeded legal limits, according to reports.

Biton was reportedly seeking help obtaining a green card. He pleaded guilty to visa fraud last year.

Suky, meanwhile, has contributed to Grimm’s campaign – one of several pornographers on Grimm’s donor roster. As we shared back in 2012:

One of the rabbi’s closest aides, Benzion Suky, owned a company that distributed porn videos and has settled lawsuits by adult film studios who accused him of selling bootlegged DVDs, according to court records. Suky and his wife gave a combined $9,600 to Grimm’s 2010 campaign and a real estate partnership that lists Suky as its managing member gave $4,800, according to Federal Election Commission records.

grimm

The Texas woman arrested last month as part of the FBI probe into Congressman Grimm’s campaign fundraising appeared in Brooklyn court yesterday, and her lawyers told reporters that she was being targeted because of her association with Grimm.

Diana Durand, 47, was put in handcuffs in January and charged with skirting federal campaign laws to steer money to Grimm. According to investigators, Durand used straw donors to hide the source of donations from contributors who sought to exceed the maximum amount permitted by law. She allegedly used a network of associates to write out checks to Grimm, which investigators say she then reimbursed using funds from the real donors.

If true, it appears to be a blatant and contrived attempt to dodge campaign finance laws – but Durand’s attorneys say the woman had no knowledge of the law to begin with.

NY1 reports:

Her attorneys say they are reviewing the evidence against her before the case moves forward.

“Had she had no association with the congressman, she would not be confronted with these charges,” said Stuart Kaplan, Durand’s attorney.

… “This is a woman that was never involved with politics before she met Michael Grimm. I think she is totally or she was totally devoid or ignorant to the rules or regulations or laws or ethical constraints with respect to fundraising,” said Kaplan.

The complaint alleges Durand knew she was skirting campaign finance law.

It points for one to this e-mail, showing Durand poking fun at one person she eventually reimbursed.

… From here it’s unclear if Durand will be officially indicted or if a plea deal could be in the works.

Prior to Durand’s arrest, authorities busted another member of Grimm’s campaign network, Ofer Biton, who pleaded guilty to visa fraud last year. The campaign has also been accused of donor swapping – a controversial practice in which candidates skirt campaign finance limits by having donors contribute to an ally, who then forwards the money to the original candidate as a separate contribution.

Grimm has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and the congressman has refused to speak at length on the matter. Questions about the investigation are what led Grimm to threaten to throw a NY1 reporter off a balcony and break him like a boy last month.

grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm has voted twice this week to suppress bringing a bill to the House floor that would delay hikes in flood insurance – even though he’s the sponsor of the bill.

The legislation would postpone increases in flood insurance premiums for four years to protect New York City homeowners from price increases of thousands of dollars. It would also allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to complete an affordability study based on the new maps, and create a possible new tier of low rates for homeowners placed into a flood zone for the first time due to remapping of at-risk areas.

The hikes were planned prior to Superstorm Sandy, but since the storm legislators have shared concern that it would cause undue harm to middle- and working-class residents of coastal communities, as well as add more suffering to those still recovering from the the October 2012 flood.

The bill passed the Senate last week,and other Brooklyn representatives in the House have demanded a vote.

“Since the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the families of Gerritsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay have dedicated themselves to the revitalization of their homes and small businesses, with much hard work and at considerable expense. An increase in flood insurance premiums would only increase the difficulty of their efforts, and would almost certainly force some homeowners – especially families living on a fixed income – to move elsewhere,” said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke in a press release last week. “I urge my colleagues to continue supporting for their efforts to rebuild the community and to remain in their homes.”

Grimm is the primary sponsor of the House version of the bill, having introduced it in October 2013. But he has since fallen in line with his Republican colleagues, voting with almost every other member of his party against the Democrats’ motions to force a floor vote.

According to the Daily News, which first reported on the congressman’s turnaround, it was this bill that Grimm referenced when explaining why he lost his cool and threatened to throw a NY1 reporter off a balcony. The congressman said he had lost his temper after a long day “fighting for flood insurance.”

grimm-snl

Those jokers over at Saturday Night Live took their turn mocking Bensonhurst’s representative to Congress, Michael Grimm, following other funnymen including Jon Stewart of The Daily Show.

In the latest video, Grimm’s outburst against a reporter, in which he threatened to throw him off a balcony, is upstaged by fictional freshman Representative Sheila Kelly, played by guest host Melissa McCarthy.

Kelly explodes in front of cameras after a “Delaware 1″ TV reporter asks her about a fundraising scandal.

After walking off screen, Kelly returns as the reporter throws the broadcast back to the station and gets in his face, just as Congressman Grimm did.

“You ever been thrown out a window, bro? ‘Cause you know what? When I do it, I don’t open it first. You go down with the glass,” Kelly threatened. “You’re not a man – you’re a little baby,” she taunted, harking back to Grimm’s threats to NY1 reporter Michael Scotto, in which you said “You’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

The sketch spirals out of control from there, turning into a pursuit captured on multiple cameras as a gun-weilding Kelly destroys them one by one.

Presumably, Delaware 1′s news director has demanded an apology from Kelly.

Grimm’s outburst, which happened last Tuesday after the State of the Union, continues to draw headlines despite his apology, with allegations that it’s part of a pattern of thuggish behavior for the congressman.

grimm

More evidence that Congressman Michael Grimm’s thuggish behavior towards a NY1 reporter was no isolated incident continues to emerge, as another reporter has come forward to say that she has been a victim of his anger.

For those who’ve been living under a rock, Congressman Grimm was giving an interview to NY1 reporter Michael Scotto from a balcony of the Capitol building in response to Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. Scotto wrapped up the interview, then sought to get a comment from Grimm about the federal probe into his campaign fundraising, a question the congressman has been dodging for months. Grimm walked off camera, then returned when he thought the cameras were off and, with profanity-laced language, threatened to throw Scotto off the balcony. The congressman, a former marine and FBI agent, then told Scotto he’d break him in half… “like a boy.”

The next morning, in a statement by NY1 News Director Bob Hardt, it was revealed that veteran political reporter Errol Louis had a similar confrontation with the congressman in December 2012.

And later that day, I shared my experience with the congressman in 2012, in which he and a goon got in my face, shouting, in a clear attempt to intimidate.

The common thread in all of those accounts is that we were all asking about the allegations of misconduct into his campaign’s fundraising.

Now Marin Cogin, a National Journal reporter, has come forward with a similar story from the congressman’s earliest days in office. It appears the congressman did not want to take responsibility for his own words, and, after getting in trouble with his colleagues, furiously demanded the reporter alter his quote.

Here’s the relevant section:

Even before that New Yorker story came out, I had a good sense of Grimm’s temper. In March 2011, he was part of the freshman class I covered as a reporter for Politico, and I wrote a story about him criticizing fellow conservatives for risking a government shutdown. “I don’t represent the tea party or anybody like that, I represent Staten Island and Brooklyn. If we’re going to make those cuts they’re going to be smart,” he told me at the time. The tea party did not appreciate that statement. So Grimm’s press secretary called me back to insist he’d said “I don’t represent only the tea party” and that I needed to issue a correction. I checked my notes, confirmed my quote, and told them I was sorry but I couldn’t issue a correction. At the time it seemed like a matter of principle: I wasn’t going to issue a correction just because someone was experiencing a bit of controversy over his words. And that’s when Grimm got on the phone and started shouting at me.

It’s been a few years since this happened, and I don’t remember all of the details. I do remember him repeatedly yelling that he “did not serve 10 years in the FBI!” to have to put up with something like this. To be clear, at no time did I feel threatened, nor did I feel particularly scared or upset–although that seemed pretty clearly to me to be what he was trying to accomplish. I was a little shocked, but I gave as good as I got, and he took it to my editor, and we eventually settled on this blog post where he got to clarify his claims. Compared to last night’s outburst, it was pretty tame. Still, I’ve never dealt with anyone so angry before, or since.

I recommend you read Cogin’s entire post. But for those who are still wondering what the big deal is over Grimm’s temper, she wraps it all up rather succinctly with her final sentence.

“Do we really want a political culture in which journalists can’t ask public officials legitimate questions without getting browbeaten?” she asks.

When a congressman acts like a loon – whether it’s threatening to throw a reporter off the balcony of the Capitol building, or a tweeting out wang photos – it’s nice to be able to numb the shame of having that person represent you with a little laugh or two.

Thanks to Daily Show host Jon Stewart, we can. According to the comedian, Congressman Michael Grimm’s outburst was no outburst at all – just a typical Staten Islanders greeting.

“To be fair, ‘I will throw you off this fucking balcony’ is a relatively standard and traditional Staten Island goodbye,’” Stewart said. “Hey, how are your parents doin’? I can’t wait to throw them off a fucking balcony!”

Watch the entire segment above. The commentary on Grimm begins just after the 5:00 mark. (via Politicker)

In related news, the Staten Island Advance has penned an editorial suggesting Grimm is in violation of the House of Representatives Code of Conduct, and says it raises questions about his judgement.

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