New York Republicans Grapple with Their Grimm Problem
“In all sincerity, I am one of the most — strange, it might sound bizarre — but I really am one of the luckiest members of Congress,” Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) told WABC Radio's Geraldo Rivera on Tuesday. “And I say that because I have salt-of-the-earth people in my district. Staten Island and southwest Brooklyn are just goodhearted, hardworking, regular, everyday people.”
The feeling, however, does not appear to be mutual. In the eleven days since embattled Grimm was indicted for allegedly hiding over $1 million in income from the IRS, Republicans there have been grappling with what to do with their Grimm problem, including considering how to get him off the ballot in the November elections.
“I honestly feel that it’s time for Michael Grimm to step aside so the Staten Island GOP can save their seat. I think the entire Republican Party, unless they’re totally delusional, know that we are going to lose this seat otherwise,” Sal Calise, a former member of the Executive Committee of the Staten Island GOP, told Breitbart News. “So I advise my fellow Republicans to join me in saying ‘bye bye’ to Michael Grimm.”
Another veteran New York Republican activist was more blunt. "He's f***ed,” the source said.
Others are considering more strategic approaches. Under the state's election laws, there's almost no way to remove Grimm from the ballot.
One longtime Brooklyn resident and Republican activist suggested to Breitbart News that Republicans should just unite behind Grimm for the 2014 election, force him out after the election, and fill his seat through a special election.
“Democrats did this in 2006 and elected [Alan] Hevesi and then he had to resign. At that time, The Daily News and The Albany Times Union, if you go back to those editorials, supported electing Hevesi and then replacing him later on, so there’s precedence for that,” the source said.
Hevesi was first elected New York State Comptroller in 2002. He later won re-election in November of 2006 but resigned in December of 2006. Hevesi did this as part of a plea bargain with the Albany County Court, after it was found he used state employees to care for his ill wife. One year later he pled guilty to corruption charges relating to a pay to play scheme and was sentenced to 1 to 4 years in prison.
Grimm turned himself into the FBI after allegation surfaced from the U.S. Attorney’s office last week that the New York congressman hid more than $1 million in salary and wages for employees of his New York restaurant Healthalicious.
The investigation was sparked following claims that tens of thousands of dollars had been illegally funneled to his 2010 campaign by supporters of celebrity rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto. Grimm’s former girlfriend Diana Durand was arraigned and charged on Monday for campaign violations related to Grimm’s 2010 race, The New York Daily News reported. Durand’s lawyer says she did not know she did anything wrong.
Grimm resigned from the House Financial Services Committee in late April at the urging of Speaker John Boehner.