Earlier today, the Staten Island Advance reported that the House Office of Congressional Ethics voted unanimously to clear GOP Congressman Michael Grimm of any ethics violations while in office. Mr. Grimm, who has been facing serious fundraising allegations and an FBI inquiry, was understandably happy and touted the results.
“I welcome the unanimous recommendation of the Office of Congressional Ethics to dismiss this matter, and respect the system in place to uphold the highest ethical standards for those who serve in Congress,” Mr. Grimm said in a statement. “I continue to remain focused on working tirelessly for the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn by fighting for the issues that matter most to them, whether it’s toll relief, creating local jobs, or protecting Social Security and Medicare for our seniors.”
However, the most serious allegations against Mr. Grimm involve his fundraising leading up to his first election, and the House ethics office only looked at how those allegations might have affected his conduct since he won the seat. Democrats, including the congressman’s opponent, Mark Murphy, leaped to point out the fact that Mr. Grimm isn’t in the clear yet.
“The growing federal law enforcement investigations into Congressman Grimm’s fundraising and his floundering campaign can’t be whitewashed with a beltway insider report that only addresses the narrow scope of what he may or may not have done in the few months after being elected to Congress,” Mr. Murphy’s spokesman Nathan Smith said in a statement of his own. “The facts are clear: Congressman Grimm is under federal investigation for alleged illegal campaign activity, Congressman Grimm’s actions since he became a Congressman were clearly worthy of investigation, and Congressman Grimm’s re-election is in serious jeopardy as donors and voters continue to run away from him and his investigations.”
Republicans weren’t ready to let Mr. Murphy’s campaign have the last word, however. The National Republican Campaign Committee sent out a press release entitled, “Question: What’s the definition of desperate?” and ladled it with references to the Democrat’s Hollywood past.
“Mark Murphy is so desperate he’s already breaking a campaign pledge made less than a month ago,” the NRCC’s spokesman, Nathaniel Sillin, wrote while linking to a story where Mr. Murphy said he’d avoid mud-slinging. “Murphy has gone from failed actor to a failed candidate that not even Staten Island Democrats want to support. It’s time for Murphy to give up reciting Democrat talking points and go back to D-list acting in Hollywood.”
However, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, like their NRCC counterparts, also blasted the idea that these recent developments put Mr. Grimm in the clear.
“Congressman Grimm has already racked up more than $300,000 in legal bills and that is sure to continue as the FBI continues looking into his potentially illegal campaign fundraising last election,” Josh Schwerin, a regional spokesman for the organization, said in a statement. “Congressman Grimm can try to spin his way out of this, but that won’t change the fact that he is facing a federal investigation and a mountain of legal bills.”