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marble falls (10,213 posts)
Texas woman in Grimm fundraising case set to be arraigned
Texas woman in Grimm fundraising case set to be arraigned in Brooklyn federal court on Jan. 30
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) on Tuesday declined to answer questions about arrest of Texas friend Diana Durand. (Staten Island Advance/Anthony DePrimo)
By Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance
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on January 20, 2014 at 8:50 PM, updated January 20, 2014 at 9:18 PM
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - The Texas woman arrested by the FBI for allegedly making more than $10,000 in illegal contributions to the 2010 campaign of Rep. Michael Grimm is set to be arraigned on the charges in Brooklyn federal court.
And on Monday, Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) shot down a report that he and Ms. Durand engaged in "donor swapping" during the 2010 campaign, and new details emerged about Grimm's relationship with the celebrity rabbi at the heart of the FBI investigation of Grimm's own 2010 campaign fundraising.
FEC records show that Barbara Durand Clem gave Grimm $1,000 on Nov. 13, 2009, and Montgomery Durand gave Grimm's campaign $1,000 on Nov. 19, 2009.
Like Ms. Clem and Ms. Durand, Montgomery Durand lists Monmouth, Ill., roots on his Facebook page, but it is not known for certain if the three are related.
The FBI complaint against Ms. Durand said an unnamed relative of hers, called "Straw Donor #3," donated $1,000 to Grimm on Nov. 19, 2009.
Ms. Clem was listed as president of the Houston-based MCG Transportation company, where Ms. Durand was CEO, and the two also have an address in common, public records show.
Ms. Clem was also an owner of Austin Refuel Transport. Grimm is the former owner and CEO of the firm's parent company, Austin Refuel.
Ms. Durand was arrested by the FBI on Jan. 10 and accused of using straw donors to donate illegally to Grimm's campaign.
On Monday, Grimm declined to discuss Ms. Durand's arrest.
"I'm not going to comment on anything else," he told reporters after an event with borough Cub Scouts in his New Dorp district office.
Stuart Kaplan, the former FBI agent representing Ms. Durand, did not respond to a request for comment.
Grimm on Monday also slammed a published report that said he and Ms. Durand may have engaged in "donor swapping" in order to get around campaign contribution limits.
In a donor swap, a contributor who gave the maximum donation to Candidate 1 then donates to Candidate 2. In return, a donor of Candidate 2 gives that same amount to Candidate 1.
The Daily News highlighted a $4,800 donation to Grimm from a Washington, D.C., attorney who had already given the maximum amount to GOP Virginia congressional candidate Bert Mizusawa. On the same day, Ms. Durand and another Grimm donor each gave $4,800 to Mizusawa.
Grimm and Ms. Durand also each gave $2,400 to Republican Michael Curb, running in South Dakota, the same day that an accountant in a South Dakota firm headed by Curb donated $4,800 to Grimm, the paper said.
A Houston couple who had given the maximum to Grimm then gave $4,800 to Illinois GOP Rep. Aaron Schock on the same day that an Illinois couple who had maxed out to Schock gave $4,800 to Grimm, the paper said.
Ms. Durand also gave $2,400 to Schock, records showed.
The News said that 20 transactions suggested that Grimm supporters, including Ms. Durand, and candidates swapped donations totaling more than $75,000.
In a statement to the Advance, Grimm called the story a "one-sided hit piece."
He said the transactions cited "are completely legal and common, and would be frequently seen in the vast majority of Members' filings."
Separately, in a 2010 interview that aired on Israeli television, Grimm said he met Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto after doing a "mitzvah," or good deed, for a member of New York's Jewish community at the end of an undercover case Grimm worked while with the FBI.
The FBI is investigating allegations that Grimm, working with Pinto aide Ofer Biton, illegally raised money from the rabbi's Upper East Side congregation in 2010. Grimm has denied the charges and has been accused of no wrongdoing.
Grimm said in the interview that when the Jewish community learned he was running for Congress, they invited him to get a "very special blessing" from Pinto. The two then began to meet regularly, he continued. Grimm said Pinto appreciated Grimm's strong support of Israel, and that his House campaign was going well "due to the inspiration of the rabbi."
"It's amazing," Grimm said in the interview. "I'm not Jewish, I'm Catholic. But the very first time that I met Rabbi Pinto, I can't really explain it, it's hard to articulate, but it was a very special meeting. You could almost feel the positive energy when he holds your hand."
Also part of the interview was Ben Zion Suky, a real estate developer and top Pinto aide. Suky has been identified as a witness in an Israeli case where Pinto is alleged to have bribed top police officials. Suky has also been tied to the porn industry.
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