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Ethics Panel Defers to Justice Department on Grimm Probe Ethics Panel Defers to Justice Department on Grimm Probe

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Ethics Panel Defers to Justice Department on Grimm Probe

The House Ethics Committee announced on Monday that it was temporarily suspending a probe of Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., in order to not interfere with an ongoing Department of Justice investigation.

Grimm, who won reelection this month to a second term, is under investigation for whether he violated federal campaign finance laws during his 2010 bid for Congress. Among the potential improprieties listed in a statement from the ethics panel are whether he accepted banned donations, falsified campaign reports and improperly sought help from a foreign national to gin up campaign contributions in exchange for helping the person obtain a green card.

It is the House Ethics Committee’s policy to defer to other federal authorities during their investigations. The panel acted similarly during a Justice probe of former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Illinois, who resigned from Congress last week.

Grimm’s attorney William McGinley said in a statement that the panel’s deferral “comes as no surprise.”

“We appreciate the Committee's decision to defer consideration of this matter while we continue to work with the Department of Justice to favorably resolve the false allegations against Congressman Grimm,” he said. “Any fair and objective review of all of the facts in this matter will conclude that Congressman Grimm engaged in no wrongdoing. We are confident that the Department of Justice and the Ethics Committee will reach that result."

The Grimm case also highlights the simmering turf warfare between the Ethics Committee and the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which first referred the case to the panel. The OCE recommended the lawmaker-run ethics panel dismiss the case, because it occurred before Grimm became a member of Congress (and thus subject to its jurisdiction).

The Ethics Committee disagreed with that assessment. “The Committee unanimously voted to continue to assert jurisdiction over matters relating to a successful campaign for election to the House,” said the panel’s chairman, Republican Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama, and its ranking Democrat, Rep. Linda Sanchez of California.

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