Today’s New York Post reports that Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), already under indictment, sought out and allegedly accepted campaign contributions in his initial 2010 race for Congress that exceeded contribution limits.
He asked for $10,000 donations from six people, when the legal limit for individual contributions is $2,400. The contributions were not disclosed on Grimm’s campaign disclosure forms, evidence that Grimm may have been aware that they were illegal.
“A candidate who tries to get others to solicit contributions far in excess of the legal limit raises big red flags,” said Ken Boehm, a former prosecutor and chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia watchdog. Not reporting donations, or funneling them through straw donors, is illegal.
Despite being a Republican, Grimm is close to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) of Queens, in photo with Grimm. According to a March 8, 2014 New York Daily News article:
“They have a weird bromance,” said a Republican aide who has worked with both Grimm, 44, and Meeks, 60. “They love each other.”
Many of Meeks Democratic friends have either been successfully prosecuted for corruption or are under indictment. State Senator Malcolm Smith, State Senator John Sampson, former State Senator Shirley Huntley, Democratic leader Albert Baldeo, New York City Councilman Ruben Wills, Democratic consultant Melvin Lowe have all been caught up in investigations reportedly triggered by NLPC’s scrutiny of Meeks and his associates, beginning in 2010.
Grimm’s problems prompt the question of whether Meeks associates with anyone – including the one Republican – who is not a crook. It also prompts the question of why Grimm is under indictment while Meeks is not. The answer is simple. Meeks is a Democrat and Grimm is a Republican.
The indictment of a sitting member of Congress requires the approval of the Attorney General. While the prosecutions of state and local Democratic politicians has been allowed to go forward, Meeks enjoys the protection of Eric Holder, which whom he shares a political and personal ties.
The specifics of the new allegations lean toward the strange. Grimm apparently shook down an Orthodox Jewish rabbi named Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto in a bid to quickly raise funds. According to the Post today:
Pinto, an Orthodox mystic who lives in Manhattan and Israel, prompted the federal investigation against Grimm. The rabbi reported to federal authorities in 2010 that he was the victim of an alleged extortion scheme by two members of his inner circle, Israeli businessman Ofer Biton and p.r. executive Ronn Torossian.
Grimm, at the time, had become a follower of the rabbi, even though he is not Jewish and speaks no Hebrew. Pinto does not speak English.
But then again, Grimm’s entire career has been a little strange. He was elected as a Tea Party Republican after a serving as an FBI agent. This background served him well against the backdrop of anti-Washington sentiment in 2010. Reports have subsequently surfaced, however, that FBI agent Grimm got too close to informants, including members of organized crime.
The 20-count indictment relates to Grimm’s ownership of a restaurant called Healthalicious. Grimm allegedly hired illegal aliens, paid them half in cash to reduce his payroll tax obligations, and then lied about it. Ironically, Grimm is one of the few House Republicans who favor amnesty for illegal aliens.
Despite all this, Grimm is running for re-election. His Democratic opponent is Dominic Recchia.