Updated 03/04/2012 04:43 PM
Grimm Slams Report Of Possible FBI Probe Into Campaign Donations
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Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm again defended his campaign fundraising tactics Sunday, calling the latest allegations that he illegally collected money "preposterous."
The Republican lawmaker made the comments while marching in the borough's St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Law enforcement officials tell the Associated Press the Federal Bureau of Investigation is gathering information about fundraising by Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto.
Followers of Pinto raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Grimm when he first ran for office in 2010. However, some donors claim they were encouraged to donate more than allowed by law.
Former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner tells NY1 Pinto contacted him and that he passed the information to the FBI.
While Weiner would not give details of the conversation, the AP is reporting Pinto told Weiner he was being extorted by Grimm.
Grimm says the election-year allegations are absurd.
"The Times' article first said that the rabbi didn't even know I was aggressively raising money, now he says I extort him. Listen, the whole thing is nonsense and it's designed to be a smear campaign and to distract me from doing what I do everyday, fighting for Staten Island and Brooklyn and it's not going to work," Grimm said.
Grimm, who has been a rising star in the GOP since defeating Democratic incumbent Michael McMahon, says the allegations are coming out now because the Democrats don't have a strong candidate to defeat him this year.
One of his biggest supporters is former Congressman Guy Molinari, who called Weiner a "pervert and a liar". He says Democrats including Senator Charles Schumer don't know how to deal with Grimm's popularity.
Schumer had no comment.
Amid the allegations, some of Grimm's supporters told NY1 they are standing by their representative.
"I think it's all a bunch of lies," said one Staten Island resident.
"I think they are trying to do him in. I don't believe any of it," said another.
Grimm, a former FBI agent himself, says the federal agency has not contacted him.