Immigration Misadventures of Political Fundraisers

By David North on December 29, 2014

There have been recent developments in immigration-related news stories related to tainted political fundraisers from both parties.

Perhaps the most thoroughly reported was the latest twist in the story of Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who was re-elected in November despite a battery of federal tax and immigration charges against him, and who copped a plea bargain last week that probably will lead to jail time.

The Staten Island congressman also obtained notoriety by threatening, while cameras rolled, to toss a journalist off the balcony in the House chamber when the latter asked a question about the criminal charges. Although he pled guilty to the single charge, Grimm has announced that he will not resign; if he does not do so, he faces the possibility of ejection from the House.

Grimm's legal problems centered around a restaurant he once owned in Manhattan and on his political fundraising. In addition to seriously understating the income from the eating establishment to avoid taxes, Grimm was charged with employing at least one illegal alien (his reaction: everybody does it).

Further, for years his main fundraiser was an illegal alien from Israel named Ofer Biton; Biton, in turn, pled guilty, separately, to visa fraud. His crime: he said on an immigrant investor (EB-5) application that the money he used for his half-million investment had been secured legally, when, in fact, he got it through extortion. Biton was also charged with fundraising violations in connection with Grimm's campaigns.

The Republicans, however, did not have a monopoly on immigration-fraud-tainted fundraisers: There is the story of Estefania Isaias from Ecuador:

[She] had been barred from coming to the United States after being caught fraudulently obtaining visas for her maids. But the ban was lifted at the request of the State Department under former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton so that Ms. Isaias could work for an Obama fund-raiser with close ties to the administration.

The family, the report continued, "which has been investigated by federal law enforcement agencies of suspicion on money laundering and immigration fraud, has made hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to American political campaigns in recent years."

The administration has also refused to extradite two family members to Ecuador where they "were sentenced in absentia in 2012 to eight years in prison, accused of running their bank into the ground and then presenting false balance sheets to profit from bailout funds."

Topics: Politics