News & Politics

Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm’s Awkward Fundraiser Problem


When running any sort of political campaign, a fundraiser can be your best friend or your worst enemy (in this sense, we mean ‘fundraiser’ in the actual person sense, not a fundraising event). They can provide bankrolls or bad publicity; the latter remains as every candidate’s nightmare. And, as of this morning, we can weave a grand ol’ tale of that happing in our own backyard.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 18, 2012

Michael Grimm is a young Republican star in Congress, representing both Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. He has served in the Army, ran undercover in the FBI, opened his own health food restaurant in Manhattan and done a whole bunch of other cool stuff that can all be found on his website’s ‘About Me’ page. On the Hill, he co-chairs the House Republican Israel Caucus and has sworn to repeal Obamacare.
Whelp, now that we’ve gotten his background out of the way, we can move on to the bigger story at hand here. Yesterday, one of Grimm’s biggest fundraisers, a Mr. Ofer Bilton, was arraigned on charges of immigration fraud in Brooklyn. Bilton, an Israeli businessman, is being accused of lying up a storm two years ago whilst filling out visa applications for foreign investors.
And, as any corruption story goes, Bilton happened to be a pretty close ally to Grimm.
The charges are a result of an FBI probe into another one of Grimm’s fundraisers, an Israeli Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto. The probe came off the suspicion that these donors were funneling foreign money into Grimm’s campaign – his status as co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus would be the main incentive for that here – and, of course, that is illegal in terms of campaign finance law. But the arraignment yesterday is strictly based on Bilton’s cover-up of applications for $50,000 or more in foreign investment, not the source of where the money is actually coming from.
To add him into the mix, Bilton was a top aide to Pinto and the nexus between Grimm and the rabbi. It’s hard to make this stuff up.
As of now, ABC is reporting that both Bilton and Grimm’s lawyer have declined any comment on the situation. And the Congressman has denied any wrongdoing. But, with any good fundraiser-from-hell story like this, that will all soon change.

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