Rep. Michael Grimm announced late Monday night plans to
resign from Congress, after pleading guilty to a felony tax evasion
charge last week. The Staten Island congressman was indicted in
April on 20 counts relating to his health food restaurant, Healthalicious,
including charges that he filed false tax returns; engaged in mail fraud, wire
fraud and perjury; and knowingly hired undocumented workers.
House Speaker John Boehner called Grimm's decision to step
down "honorable" in a statement on Tuesday. A Republican
congressional source said Boehner and Grimm spoke Monday before Grimm announced
his plans to resign.
During last Tuesday's hearing, Grimm pleaded guilty to one
count of aiding in the filing of a false tax return, a plea that's expected to
bring him months of jail time. The decision to resign marks a change of heart
for the Staten Island Republican, who rejected calls to step down after he
entered his guilty plea.
He apologized for his actions and took responsibility, and
said that the unpaid taxes from a New York restaurant he once owned were a
mistake. While there's nothing in the Constitution or House Rules barring
felons from serving in Congress, the situation created an unwanted headache and
negative attention for Boehner as he seeks to head into the new Congress
starting with a clean slate.
While he gave up his seat on the House Financial Services
Committee after he was charged, Grimm repeatedly insisted he would be
According to the Daily News, however, Grimm admitted to the
conduct alleged in his 20-count indictment in a document to the court. The
indictment came down just months before what was already expected to be a tough
re-election fight for the perennial Democratic target. His Staten Island-area
district went for President Barack Obama in 2012, but despite the cloud of the
indictment hanging over his head, Grimm pulled out an easy win over his
Democratic challenger in November.
His re-election and subsequent guilty plea created problems
for Boehner, who — along with then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor — in 2010 promised
to institute a "zero tolerance" policy for ethics violations
within the GOP caucus, which had dogged the party and contributed to its steep
losses in the 2006 and 2008 elections.
Indeed, in previous situations where House
Republicans admitted to criminal or personal ethical lapses, Boehner has worked
privately to encourage those members to step aside on their own.
But Grimm's guilty plea wasn't the only headache he's caused
Boehner over the past year. He drew negative headlines last January when he was
caught on camera threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony and break him in
half "like a boy," after the reporter asked about an investigation
into his campaign finances.
Grimm's resignation will spark a competitive special
election for his seat, and potential contenders have already begun lining up.
here to access the full article on CNN.