The fact that the government was going to indict 44 year-old U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), who represents New York State’s 11th congressional district, which includes parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island, was widely known.
Grimm’s own lawyer acknowledged last week that it was about to happen.
And yesterday, when the 30 count indictment was handed down, Rep. Grimm pleaded not guilty to fraud.
The indictment charges the former Marine, FBI agent and businessman concealed profits from a health food restaurant he ran, and paid employees off the books – some of whom were allegedly in the States illegally – in order to evade payments of taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.
What’s worse, if true, is that Grimm not only engaged in the evasions, but he lied about it under oath in a lawsuit brought by a former employer of his restaurant.
Grimm characterized the indictment as a “political witch hunt” undertaken against him because he “was an outsider who wasn’t supposed to win.” The witch hunt, he said, is an “effort to assassinate my character and to remove me from office.”
But, both Grimm and his attorneys, Elizabeth Kase and retired Judge John Kase, said they are relieved that the two years of innuendo and “absolutely disgraceful, shameful government leaks” are over, and Grimm and his legal team will be able to fight back.
In talking about the “witch hunt” against him, Grimm said that his “opponents figured I’d run away, that I’d abandon my post, and that my constituents would abandon me.” But the now-indicted congressman said that was not going to happen.
Grimm has stepped down from his position on the Financial Services Committee until resolution of the unfolding legal matters, according to CNN.
There is another legal investigation against Grimm which is still ongoing. That one involves potential campaign finance fraud.
This is Grimm’s official written statement:
The last 24 hours have given me a lot to reflect upon.
Same for the voters in my congressional district.
Here’s what they need to know.
They elected a Marine, with the true grit that comes with it.
And our credo is never retreat from a fire fight, which is why I’ve been able to accomplish so much for our district.
Throughout my career, I have sought to live a public life of honor and integrity. I have also made no bones about the fact that I won’t be bullied, abused or intimidated. I would hope those attributes have made me a more effective advocate for my constituents, working day and night for each and every one of them, regardless of who they vote for.
Let me be clear, these charges are false and I devoutly believe I will be exonerated. This is yet another example of how the system can be corrupted into a vengeful, cynical and partisan persecution with little accountability to the rules of law.
Candidly, there are powerful forces who don’t like me. They don’t like the fact that I am a political outsider. I am not part of their club. They certainly don’t like that I speak my mind or the rough social edges I share with many who have served in our military. I get all of that, but that doesn’t mean they can flout the law, leak unattributed lies and seek to poison public opinion.
There are some in the media who now say I should resign. That would mean I am admitting guilt of something I am not guilty of. That would also mean they don’t know a thing about Marines. They forget that I have faced much more dangerous foes in my career long before I was a Congressman.
I have but one focus now; to redouble my efforts on behalf of the people of my district. There is much work to be done to protect the hardworking families I represent. I will run for reelection by asking voters to judge me on what I have done to represent them, including the many accomplishments like delivering Sandy relief and passing major flood insurance reform since being elected to office.
Let my peers empaneled for the specific purpose of examining this political witch hunt decide how this matter should be properly disposed of.
In the meantime, I’m going back to work.