Rep. Michael Grimm's campaign fundraising have been the subject of a federal investigation for nearly two years. On Wednesday, a fundraiser appeared in court after she was accused of directing illegal donations to the Staten Island lawmaker. Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Diana Durand did not say much leaving federal court.
The Texas woman was in Brooklyn for one reason: she was arrested and accused by authorities that she funneled illegal campaign contributions to Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm.
Her attorneys say they are reviewing the evidence against her before the case moves forward.
"Had she had no association with the congressman, she would not be confronted with these charges,” said Stuart Kaplan, Durand’s attorney.
According to the federal complaint, Durand reimbursed several campaign donors during Grimm's first run for Congress in 2010, violating federal campaign finance limits in the process.
"This is a woman that was never involved with politics before she met Michael Grimm. I think she is totally or she was totally devoid or ignorant to the rules or regulations or laws or ethical constraints with respect to fundraising,” said Kaplan.
The complaint alleges Durand knew she was skirting campaign finance law.
It points for one to this e-mail, showing Durand poking fun at one person she eventually reimbursed.
Grimm himself has not been implicated with any wrongdoing, but questions about the federal investigation have dogged the congressman for two years.
It's these questions that led him to threaten a NY1 reporter last month.
Exactly what Durand's relationship is with Grimm is a bit unclear.
"They’ve been friends for the past four or five years and they continue to do so,” said Kaplan.
Durand also allegedly reimbursed a donor for another congressman: Illinois Republican Aaron Schock.
This is the second case brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office against someone in Grimm's campaign network. Ofer Biton, a former fundraiser, pleaded guilty to visa fraud last year.
From here it's unclear if Durand will be officially indicted or if a plea deal could be in the works.