Nov 282012

Then-candidate Michael Grimm in 2010. (Photo by Brian Hedden)

Now that the 2012 election is over, it’s time to start talking about 2016, am I right?

At least, that’s the way it feels sometimes when reading news coverage, or especially watching cable TV news. Will Hillary run? Is Andrew Cuomo a viable candidate? Do Republicans still love Chris Christie? Since when did New York and New Jersey start hogging the potential Presidential limelight anyway?

But alas, there’s a lot more to how the government is run than speculating on who will become President over four years from now. Even beyond the national stuff like the fiscal cliff and filibuster reform, there’s movement at the local level, such as the leanings of Diane Savino and her Independent Democrat Conference in the State Senate, or the redistricting of City Council districts that may have an impact on 2013 municipal elections.

And of course, there’s also room to rehash stuff that happened in 2010.

WABC’s Sarah Wallace has reported on a newsworthy development in the probes of Staten Island/Bay Ridge Congressman Michael Grimm. Wallace reports that the House Ethics Committee has decided to defer an investigation into Grimm’s fundraising practices pending the conclusion of an ongoing probe by the Justice Department.

In making the decision, the Ethics Committee – made up of five active Representatives from each party – overruled a recommendation by the House Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent advisory board that does not have any elected officials. The HOCE suggested that the alleged ethics violations were out of scope because they occurred before Grimm became a Congressman. The Ethics Committee insisted that violations during an initial run for Congressional office were within its jurisdiction, in a written joint statement by the Republican chair and ranking Democrat on the committee.

Regarding the specific allegations, Wallace stated in her report:

It has been previously reported that the FBI was probing money donated to Grimm’s 2010 campaign by followers of an Israeli rabbi. Agents last summer arrested an Israeli businessman with links to the adult entertainment industry who had helped Grimm raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from the rabbi’s followers in New York.

Some donors have said they broke campaign finance law by donating more money than allowed, or by funneling donations from foreigners who aren’t legally allowed to give to U.S. candidates.

The New York Times has devoted extensive coverage to Grimm’s alleged violations, including this FBI probe and several other associations with people who have ended up in trouble with the law. The Odyssey team has noted that, while the allegations in the Justice Department probe seem to have merit, the other allegations by the NY Times are much more tenuous and tend to stretch or cherry-pick facts, such as their “exposé” of Grimm’s 2011 trip to Cyprus.