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It was Southampton Trustee Fred Havemeyer, a friend of Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) for 40 years, who turned out to be the one who first confirmed to the press that the FBI had investigated the allegation that Bishop last year asked for a donation from a constituent he was helping with fireworks permits.
Rick Murphy, a reporter for the East End newspaper The Independent, quoted Havemeyer in the story last Wednesday that broke the news of the investigation. “An FBI agent came in last winter,” Havemeyer said in that story.
Once Murphy’s story came out, Bishop confirmed the probe in a statement to the New York Daily News and Newsday: “My Campaign has cooperated fully with reqeusts for information from the U.S. Attorney’s office.”
Havemeyer and Southampton Fire Marshal Cheryl Kraft also told Newsday the FBI had interviewed them. But the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office refuse to confirm or deny they’re investigating.
Bishop maintains he did nothing wrong or illegal, but his case remains under review by the House Ethics Committee.
The case derives from a complaint that Bishop sought a quid pro quo by seeking a campaign donation from hedge fund manager Eric Semler as he helped Semler get permits for a fireworks show for his son’s bar mitzvah.
Last week, the committee made public the report of an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics that found “a substantial reason” to believe Bishop may have violated House rules, standards of conduct and the law.
Havemeyer said he also talked to two attorneys from the Office of Congressional Ethics for its investigation.
But in a footnote, the report says that Havemeyer “at times during the interview, was less than forthright in answering questions.”