- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A fundraiser for Republican Rep. Michael Grimm was arrested by federal agents on charges tied to campaign finance violation allegations.

Diana Durand was taken into custody by the FBI on Friday and accused of setting up a straw donor scheme to funnel $10,000 to the New York Republican’s campaign, NBC New York reported.

Ms. Durand also allegedly lied to federal agents after she was questioned about the plot and the reported violations of $4,800 campaign donation limits, authorities told the media outlet.

The FBI said agents have uncovered emails that tie Ms. Durand to the campaign fundraising allegations.

One email: “I was hoping for my birthday you will just let me forget about paying you back … Just kidding,” Ms. Durand allegedly wrote in one, NBC New York reported. Prosecutors claim she then wrote a check to a donor for a reimbursement amount that was cashed in April of 2010.

Mr. Grimm has not been charged with any crime.

CBS New York reported the lawmaker’s attorney, William McGinley, said: “We are saddened that the government took the extraordinary step of arresting a single mother on these allegations and hope the matter will be resolved quickly. The complaint does not allege any improper conduct by Congressman Grimm, and he denies any wrongdoing.”

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn are continuing to investigate, however.

The charges stem from 2009-2010 fundraising, but the alleged scheme rose to light in August of 2012 after an illegal immigrant rabbi reportedly raised thousands of dollars for Mr. Grimm’s campaign. Prosecutors won’t give details about the continuing investigation, though.

The scandal is another hit to the Republican Party. It comes on the heels of an alleged political revenge plot by aides and appointees to New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie, who are accused of shutting down portions of a well-traveled roadway to send a message to a mayor who failed to endorse the governor during his re-election campaign.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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