Legal Filings

Legal Filings
Feb 09, 2012

CREW Asks OCE to Investigate Rep. Grimm

Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate whether Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) exchanged illegal campaign contributions for his promise to assist a prominent fundraiser in procuring a green card.  CREW also filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Homeland Security seeking any communications between Rep. Grimm or his office regarding the issuance of green cards.  Rep. Grimm was named one of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress in 2011 for unrelated actions. Click here to read CREW’s letter to the OCE.  Click here to read CREW’s FOIA request.

“Campaign fundraising can sometimes be shady, but Rep. Grimm has sunk to a new low.  A former FBI agent meeting in the shadow of the Manhattan FBI office to take an illegal campaign contribution in an unmarked envelope?  Sounds like something out of a Grisham novel,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “In addition to the illegal campaign contributions, it also appears Rep. Grimm may have promised to use the powers of Congress to assist a fundraiser in procuring a green card.  In other words, Rep. Grimm may have engaged in bribery.  These are serious allegations that demand an immediate investigation.”

According to a report in The New York Times, Rep. Grimm forged a close relationship with Ofer Biton, an Israeli citizen with close ties to prominent New York Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto.  According to the report, Mr. Biton raised funds for Rep. Grimm’s campaign “in hopes that if Mr. Grimm won, he would help Mr. Biton obtain a green card.”  If true, this might constitute a bribe. 

Mr. Biton was an extremely successful fundraiser, bringing in more than $500,000 for Rep. Grimm’s campaign.  Reportedly, both he and the now congressman actively persuaded potential donors to give the congressman large sums of cash, some in excess of the contribution limit and some in the name of others.  Both of these actions violate federal law.   

“As a former FBI agent Rep. Grimm used to investigate crimes.  Now he may have committed some and has become the subject of investigation himself, said Ms. Sloan. “With members like this, no wonder Congress has only a 10% approval rating.” 

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