FBI Arrests GOP Rep's Ex-Girlfriend On Straw Donation Charges

FILE- In this May 9, 2012 file photo, Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
FILE- In this May 9, 2012 file photo, Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. On Friday, Aug. 17, 2012, businessman Ofer Biton, an Israeli who helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Grimm during his 2010 campaign, was arraigned in New York on immigration fraud charges. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON -- FBI agents arrested the reported ex-girlfriend of New York Republican Rep. Michael Grimm on Friday in Texas, charging her with making illegal campaign contributions through straw donors.

The FBI says that Diana Durand, described in an agent's deposition as a "personal friend" of Grimm, had already maxed out her personal campaign donation limit when she asked other donors to send over $10,000 in additional donations to Grimm's campaign. The FBI's deposition laying out the charges against Durand, dated August 2013, doesn't name Grimm. But after her arrest Friday, the deposition was unsealed, and Grimm's lawyer issued a statement in which he confirmed that Grimm is the "Candidate A" referred to in the document.

The lawyer, William McGinley of Patton Boggs LLP, also pointed out that the complaint doesn't allege any wrongdoing on Grimm's part.

“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,” McGinley said, according to The New York Times.

While the FBI reportedly got two acquaintances to flip on Durand, she also allegedly made the mistake of describing the donation scheme in an email, creating a permanent record of her purported crime. The FBI claims she then lied to the agency about her actions, triggering an additional charge.

The FBI interviewed "Donor A," who gave $4,800 to Grimm's campaign with the expectation that Durand would rent out a vacation property owned by "Donor A," but said Durand never followed through. She did follow through with "Straw Donor #1," the FBI reported, issuing him or her a check for the exact amount of the donation to Grimm's campaign. She also emailed that donor and another straw donor, thanking them for "helping me out" with the campaign donations.

"I was hoping for my birthday you will just let me forget about paying you back............ :) Just kidding! I still have to make the deposit but I can write you both a check or I can get your account numbers and do a transfer, whatever works for you," she wrote, according to the deposition.

"Straw Donor #2" also told the FBI that Durand gave him or her money to make a donation to another unnamed candidate during the 2010 campaign cycle.



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