21 April 2024

Michael Grimm Announces Resignation

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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 "fully exonerated."

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.

Click here to access the full article on CNN. 

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