One week ago, New York Congressman Michael Grimm entered a guilty plea on a charge of federal tax evasion. At the time, he stated that he planned to continue serving in Congress while the process played out, but following a meeting with Speaker Boehner this week the plans have changed.
Rep. Michael Grimm has decided to resign from Congress in the wake of his guilty plea on a felony tax evasion charge, sources told the Daily News Monday night…
“The events which led to this day did not break my spirit, nor the will of the voters,” Grimm said in a statement. “However, I do not believe that I can continue to be 100% effective in the next Congress, and therefore, out of respect for the office and the people I so proudly represent, it is time for me to start the next chapter of my life.”
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel declined to comment.
“We do not discuss private conservations the speaker has with members,” Steel said.
There weren’t a lot of other realistic options for Grimm at this point. He was going to go into a lengthy trial in February where the Feds clearly felt they had the goods on him for more than a million dollars in untaxed proceeds at a restaurant he used to own. The ensuing media circus would have shut down his ability to effectively carry out the duties of his office. He may have been willing to drag out the exercise, but it’s pretty clear that John Boehner wasn’t in the mood to have the new Republican dominated congress kick off with that sort of story eating up the headlines.
In a strange way, though, the manner in which this played out actually worked to the advantage of the Republicans. (Well, except for Grimm himself, of course.) As I wrote back in April, the timing of the indictment was tricky for the GOP in New York. The news broke after the filing deadline for the NY-11 race, a rare Big Apple seat which is considered safe for the Republicans. Running with that sort of indictment hanging over your head is tough, but if Grimm had dropped out the Democrats might have been able to run unopposed and steal the seat for two full years. (A judge might have stepped in and allowed the GOP to put another name on the ballot, but it wasn’t a sure thing.) But by hanging in there, winning another term and then resigning, Governor Cuomo will have to call a special election without the option of appointing a Democrat under New York election law.
Those not familiar with New York politics might think that the Democrats have an opening here if they run on the “GOP is corrupt” theme. But you need to keep in mind that this same group of citizens just elected Grimm while he was under federal indictment. In reality, any of several Republican elected state officials from the area could probably run for this seat and pick it back up without much trouble.