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House Ethics Committee Probes Staten Island U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm

Representative Michael Grimm (credit:grimm.house.gov)

Representative Michael Grimm (credit: grimm.house.gov)

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WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) of Staten Island was under fire from the House Ethics Committee Monday night.

The committee said it was investigating Grimm for possible campaign finance violations. But the committee has deferred its probe because of a separate investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Ethics Committee voted unanimously this month to investigate claims that Grimm broke campaign finance laws during his first congressional bid in 2010, in part by promising an Israeli national help in getting a green card if he would help solicit donations from a major synagogue, the Washington Post reported.

Followers of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, an influential figure in Israel with a headquarters in Manhattan, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Grimm when he first ran for office in 2010, according to campaign records. Some donors have since said that they broke rules to donate more cash to the Republican’s campaign than allowed by law.

Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat who had been close to the rabbi, said in March that Pinto approached him in the fall of 2010 to complain that Grimm had extorted him for the money.

Weiner, who resigned last year amid a scandal over sexually explicit texts and Twitter messages, told the political newspaper Roll Call in March that he didn’t know if the allegations were true, but reported them to the FBI anyway. He declined to discuss in detail why the rabbi felt he had been threatened.

Meanwhile, the Israeli national, Ofer Biton, was charged in August with lying about his finances when he applied for a visa for foreign investors two years ago. Biton was a former top aide to Pinto.

What do you think about the claims against Grimm? Leave your comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)