Rep. Michael Grimm, one of Congress’s vocal supporters of immigration reform, is in custody facing federal charges of illegal campaign financing.
The Associated Press reports that Grimm, a Republican from New York, was taken into custody Monday following a two-year investigation of his campaign financing. A House Ethics Committee announced the investigation in November related to possible violations in fundraising for his 2010 race.
Grimm allegedly took $250,000 to $300,000 from followers of an Israeli rabbi who later said they made illegal contributions. Specific charges have not been made public.
The other area of suspicion is Grimm’s involvement in a Manhattan restaurant. Grimm invested in a health food restaurant on the Upper East Side and has since been accused of cheating workers and failing to give worker’s compensation. Allegedly employing undocumented immigrants, Grimm is accused of paying wages in cash and helping conceal $1,000,000 in revenue.
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Grimm says he sold his interest in the venture in 2009.
“As a former FBI agent, Representative Grimm should understand the motto: fidelity, bravery, and integrity. Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn," FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said in a statement.
"In this twenty-count indictment, Representative Grimm lived by a new motto: fraud, perjury, and obstruction. We demand the best from our political leaders. Yet today, we again find ourselves expecting and rightfully wanting more. And as citizens of this great nation we rightfully demand it.”
But Grimm’s lawyer maintains his client’s innocence, claiming that his opponents have targeted him for political reasons.
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"From the beginning, the government has pursued a politically driven vendetta against Congressman Grimm and not an independent search for the truth," Grimm's attorney, William McGinley, said in a statement Friday. "Congressman Grimm asserts his innocence of any wrongdoing.”