The New York Times's editorial page on Monday said “serious questions” have emerged about Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) that deserve “a thorough inquiry by the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Department of Justice.”
Grimm, a Tea Party favorite, won a surprising victory in 2010 by campaigning on his record as a Marine and former FBI agent.
The Times report examined Grimm’s business dealings and campaign contributions, and concluded that it reflects a “checkered business background that seems to clash in some ways with his image as a straight-arrow veteran.”
According to the report, Grimm’s ties include a rabbi under federal investigation for allegedly bilking millions of dollars from the followers of an Israeli mystic, which could have resulted in illegal campaign donations for Grimm.
Several of the rabbi’s followers interviewed by the Times said "Mr. [Ofer] Biton [a top aide of the rabbi] aggressively sought donations for Mr. Grimm in hopes that he would be able to get an immigration green card once Mr. Grimm was in office,” the op-ed said. “One donor, speaking anonymously to avoid involvement in the investigation, told The Times Mr. Grimm had him hand over $5,000 in cash during the 2010 campaign; another told of repeated demands from the candidate for thousands of dollars beyond legal limits.”
The New York Times report also mentions a real estate investment partner who was under indictment for racketeering and fraud charges, Grimm’s work for a Wall Street boutique that “frequently ran into problems with regulators and customers” and a restaurant he owned that is the subject of a lawsuit by its employees.
“It is important to note the congressman’s insistence on his complete innocence, while declining to answer detailed questions,” the op-ed said. “Those questions should be thoroughly pursued by proper authorities.”
Two weeks ago, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against the New York lawmaker. CREW also submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Homeland Security asking for any communications between the agency and Grimm about potentially aiding a constituent with the green card process.
Grimm though has repeatedly denied the allegations that he accepted illegal campaign contributions.
In a statement to The Hill shortly after the initial Times report, Grimm called the allegations “unsubstantiated” and “completely false.”
"I have dedicated my entire life to honorably serving this country from the U.S. Marine Corps to the FBI and have conducted myself both as a candidate and a member of Congress by the same high standards. I will bring that same focus to continuing my work on behalf of my constituents while ensuring these allegations are shown to be the falsehoods they are,” said Grimm.