Rep. Michael Grimm, R-NY who pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014 at a hearing announced on Monday evening, Dec. 29 that he would resign his seat effective Monday, Jan, 5, 2014, the day before the 114th Congress officially starts its session. Speaker of the House of Representative John Boehner issued a statement on Tuesday, morning, Dec. 30 commending Grimm’s decision. After pleading guilty, Grimm had refused to resign; his decision is a turnabout on his vow to stay on. Supposedly, the speaker must have convinced Grimm after a meeting they had earlier on Monday.
On Monday, Grimm issued a statement announcing his resignation, “This decision is made with a heavy heart, as I have enjoyed a very special relationship and closeness with my constituents, whom I care about deeply.” Continuing, he tried to justify changing his mind about resigning, “The events which led to this day did not break my spirit, nor the will of the voters. 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.” Grimm concluded by saying, “As I said before, as long as I am able to serve I will serve.”
Speaker Boehner released his response to Grimm’s resignation decision on Tuesday morning, giving his approval on Grimm’s decision. Boehner expressed; “Rep. Grimm made the honorable decision to step down from his seat in Congress. I know it was made with the best interests of his constituents and the institution in mind, and I appreciate his years of service in the House.” Boehner has been strict on ethic violations, and despite no rules preventing convicted felons from serving in Congress, it not the way Boehner wants to start the new session with the largest GOP majority in the House since 1929, especially since the party now controls the Senate.
Last week even before his guilty plea, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA issued a statement calling for Grimm’s resignation, “Now that the election is over, Congressman Grimm is finally admitting the truth to his constituents. Clearly, Speaker Boehner must insist that Congressman Grimm resign immediately.” While a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Josh Schwerin issued a statement on the DNC’s behalf also calling for Grimm’s resignation, “It’s past time for Michael Grimm to go and it’s (Republican House Speaker) John Boehner’s responsibility to make it happen. Speaker Boehner and Republican leaders’ continued complicity in letting Michael Grimm stay in Congress despite his guilt of felony tax evasion is a disservice to the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn and a stain on the institution of the United States House of Representatives.”
Grimm was first elected to the House in 2010, on Monday he would have started his third term, he was the only Republican to represent the New City region in Congress, his district covers some of Brooklyn and Staten Island. Grimm is a former FBI agent and Marine. He is best known for threatening to throw a journalist, Michael Scotto over the “Cannon Rotunda balcony” after the 2014 State of the Union, when he asked Grimm about the investigation into his campaign finances, the Ethic Committee decision had been delayed for the new Congressional session.
Despite being indicted since April on 20 counts related to not filing over a million dollars in taxes from a restaurant Grimm co-owned prior to serving in Congress, he continued on ignoring the charges against him. Immediately after his indictment, he resigned from his seat on the House Financial Services Committee, but he kept stating he will be “fully exonerated,” he used that excuse straight through the 2014 midterm election, where he was “easily” reelected. Grimm was denying guilt all the while he was negotiating a plea deal. After the hearing, he remained adamant he will not resign, but did admit guilt, saying, “The taxes were inaccurate… It’s wrong…I should not have done it.” Grimm is facing up to three years in prison; his sentencing is June 8, 2015.
A special election will now have to be called; Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to set a date. Former Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon, who was defeated by Grimm wants his old seat back, on the Republican side the potential candidates are more wide open. The 114th Congress will be sworn-in on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.