Democrat Mark Murphy is not interested in letting Congressman Michael Grimm’s controversies go away anytime soon. After holding a press conference earlier this week highlighting the immigration-related arrest of Ofer Biton, who reportedly helped Mr. Grimm raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, Mr. Murphy’s campaign is now robocalling homes in his district with exactly the same message.
“I am calling with an important message for Staten Island and Brooklyn voters about Congressman Michael Grimm’s latest scandals and bad decisions,” the robocall’s female voice narrates. “Last Friday Congressman Grimm’s biggest fund-raiser, Ofer Biton, was arrested by the FBI. This is just the latest close aide to Grimm to be caught in serious legal troubles.”
Mr. Grimm has denied that Mr. Biton was his fund-raiser and sharply critiqued Mr. Murphy for failing to discuss policy issues. Notably, Mr. Grimm’s top campaign adviser, Guy Molinari, called Mr. Murphy a “loser” who “couldn’t lead a Little League team.”
“He has held multiple press conferences now, all focused on slinging mud at my character and reputation, but never once has he offered a single original idea about what matters to the hard-working people of Staten Island and Brooklyn,” Mr. Grimm said in a statement after Mr. Murphy’s press conference. “He hasn’t concerned himself with the prescription drug epidemic, the needs of our growing special needs population, our seniors, the fact that the Port Authority is destroying our local economy with devastating tolls, or offered any plan on how to create jobs.”
“The implication pushed in the media and by my opponent, attempting to tie me to this immigration-related arrest, is dishonest, malicious and evidence of how dirty politics is the weapon of choice by my opponents,” he continued. “I will state yet again for the record that the bogus allegations lodged against me are 100 percent baseless and any fair inquiry will reveal that.”
Mr. Murphy’s robocall also addressed the now-infamous dip into the Sea of Galilee that Mr. Grimm and other GOP congressmen took last year. Flush with alcohol, one of Mr. Grimm’s colleagues from Kansas swam so in the nude, although he was reportedly the only one to disrobe entirely.
“And yesterday it was reported in the Staten Island Advance that Congressman Grimm went on an international junket which has become an international embarrassment,” the narrator continues, who follows by urging voters to call his district office and “tell him the voters of Staten Island and Brooklyn deserve better than his series of bad decisions and shady associations.”
Mr. Grimm framed the swim in very different terms, telling NY1, “If this was a family vacation, most people would have gone for a swim and enjoyed what I consider to be a beautiful experience in a very beautiful, holy place other than this [in]discretion, which he apologized for.”
Robocalls are a cheap alternative for campaigns to highlight support or issues in the media, which, in the case of the various allegations placed against Mr. Grimm, looks to be a key part of Mr. Murphy’s strategy.
“With these calls, we’re reaching many thousands of Republicans, Democrats and independents throughout Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn,” Mr. Murphy’s spokesman Dan Morris said in a statement. “Growing concerns about Grimm’s scandals can be seen and heard across the political spectrum. Voters in the district are openly questioning whether Grimm is fit to serve in Congress.”