GOP Congressman Michael Grimm has been dogged by multiple controversies, but none are more notable than a federal investigation that, according to a New York Times report, likely stems from whether he illegally obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions during his first electoral effort in 2010. Mr. Grimm has steadfastly maintained his innocence and he has never been charged with wrongdoing, but questions remain as to what evidence spurred the probe.
One theory advanced was from Mr. Grimm’s political mentor, and occasional campaign spokesman, Guy Molinari, who has repeatedly accused Senator Chuck Schumer of “calling up” Attorney General Eric Holder and pushing the Department of Justice to investigate the Staten Island congressman, possibly as a political tactic to stop Mr. Grimm from running statewide someday.
Earlier this afternoon, freshman Congressman Michael Grimm opened up his New Dorp campaign headquarters and formally began his reelection efforts in one of New York City’s only competitive congressional districts. And standing before a packed crowd of a couple hundred supporters–including his adorable Yorkshire Terrier sporting campaign swag–the Republican incumbent was not short on grand rhetoric.
“I don’t know what to say right now, I am blown away. I’m overwhelmed, look at the turnout on a hot day like this, it was raining before,” Mr. Grimm began his speech, standing in front of what had once been a car dealership but was now his base of operations. “I can’t believe that I’m standing here today to talk about reelection. It seemed like yesterday, it seemed like last week that I was standing here speaking here to you as a completely unknown candidate. No one had heard of me, no one believed, except for you.”
Last night, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech that received some raving reviews, and Staten Island Republican Rep. Michael Grimm wants everyone to know that he also approved of the speech. Thus, late last night, he released a relatively long statement giving the speech itself high marks but also pivoting to a more critical point in each paragraph.
“No one can deny that the First Lady delivered an excellent heartfelt speech and delivered for the Democratic party. I myself was extremely pleased to hear that Mrs. Obama’s experience as the First Lady has enhanced her pride in and understanding of the greatest most exceptional nation in the world,” he began, for example, before switching to a backhanded compliment. “She has come a long way from her statement after the 2008 election that for the first time in her life she was proud to be American.”
Better Late Than Never
TAMPA, FL — Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm arrived at the Republican National Convention in time to see his party’s vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, make his speech. Mr. Grimm told Politicker he was quite pleased with Mr. Ryan’s remarks.
“I think he delivered. First and foremost, the great thing about Paul Ryan and, you know, I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, is his sincerity just shines through,” said Mr. Grimm. “When he gets choked up speaking about his mom, it reminds me of when I speak about my dad. It’s just, it’s real, it’s not contrived. It is who he is and I think that comes across in everything he says.”
Mr. Grimm is currently dealing with an FBI probe and allegations of potential impropriety surrounding donations he received from an influential rabbi. In the wake of the fundraising flap, Mr. Grimm was removed from the list of convention delegates for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Mr. Grimm initially said he wouldn’t be attending the convention due to weather concerns caused by tropical storm Isaac, which lead to speculation among insiders his potential absence was related to the fundraising flap. Mr. Grimm told us the rumors surrounding his convention attendance were “utter nonsense.”
Democratic congressional hopeful Mark Murphy is releasing an internal poll this afternoon that his campaign says gives him a path to victory against incumbent Congressman Michael Grimm. The numbers give Mr. Grimm a 48 percent to 36 percent lead, which represents a decent amount of ground he needs to make up by Election Day.
“This is a very encouraging poll for Mark Murphy. Congressman Grimm starts below the 50 percent mark—a sign of weakness for an incumbent,” Jeffrey Plaut, whose firm Global Strategy Group conducted the poll, said in a statement. ”Short introductions to both candidates move the race to a tie. And the more voters hear about Grimm and the questionable company he keeps, the more they prefer Murphy.”
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.”
Earlier today, the influential AFL-CIO rolled out its endorsements of Democratic congressional candidates across the state, only skipping three districts out of twenty seven. Two of those districts feature safe Democratic and Republican incumbents, Gregory Meeks and Peter King respectively, but one of them stands out: Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm, a top target of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“I think there’s support for both candidates,” Ryan Delgado, AFL-CIO’s public policy director, told us, explaining that they have “to be respectful of both candidates” when their membership is split.
“I’m terribly sorry that I have to be here today not talking about the issues that are so, so important to our community,” Mark Murphy said at a press conference outside of his congressional campaign headquarters earlier this afternoon. “The issues of protecting Medicare, protecting Social Security, the issues of making sure the middle class gets their tax cuts, making sure that our children have a chance at a better future.”
Instead, Mr. Murphy said, he was drawn out to speak on the issue of Ofer Biton’s arrest for immigration fraud. Mr. Biton reportedly helped Mr. Grimm raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his initial campaign and was a key figure in the original New York Times allegations that Mr. Grimm extorted money from a rabbi’s congregation.
The Russian community’s growing political influence has been profiled by publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to The New York Times, especially in regards to their role in electing Congressman Bob Turner. Since then, Russian-born State Senator David Storobin won an upset special election, drawing even more attention to the community. Now, Congressman Michael Grimm is campaigning for reelection in a congressional district with one of the nation’s larger concentration of Russian voters, and he seems to know it.
On a Russian-language radio show yesterday evening, Mr. Grimm announced that he would be co-chairing the recently-formed Congressional Russia Caucus along with Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks.
pushing a story
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised the stakes in its attacks on Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm this morning by sending to reporters and distributing “wanted” posters around Capitol Hill for the embattled pol.
The flyers, the DCCC says, are an effort to raise awareness among Congressman Grimm’s colleagues and their staffs about the questions Read More