Congressman Michael Grimm believes he has an opponent far beyond the Democrat trying to oust him.
In a brief but fiery speech to Republican supporters in Brooklyn last night, Mr. Grimm claimed that an indictment brought against him in April was really the work of Democrats and the Obama administration eager to see the city’s lone Republican congressman disappear.
“They change policy, they use regulation to legislate, they circumvent the Congress–this is now the norm for the Obama administration,” Mr. Grimm fumed at the Bay Ridge Manor in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
“And when you look and see why they come after me so hard, every day another negative story [against] the only Republican in New York City, it becomes obvious: they don’t want any opposition. This administration wants to do what it wants to do and they want you to forget about the America that you grew up in,” he said.
He also railed against an Obama administration that he said was turning America into a country akin to North Korea and Iran.
“Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m not sure what country I’m living in,” he said. “Four Americans are killed and murdered in Benghazi–no one’s held accountable …. The IRS, arguably the most feared agency in our entire government targeting people because of their political views. Now this happens in Iran, this happens in North Korea, but this is the United States of America.”
Mr. Grimm was indicted on a slew of federal charges, including mail, wire and health care fraud, filing false tax returns, perjury, obstruction of an official proceeding and hiring undocumented workers. All charges were connected to Healthalicious, an Upper East Side fast food restaurant Mr. Grimm was involved in before he was elected to Congress. One prominent Grimm backer claimed the indictment was the result of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s behind-the-scenes work, a charge Mr. Schumer called “laughable.”
Since Mr. Grimm’s indictment, staff have departed his campaign and national Republican have backed away from him, pledging neither dollars nor support. Mr. Grimm is hoping to fend off a well-funded Democratic challenger in Domenic Recchia with an aggressive–and affordable–grassroots campaign.
At the Bay Ridge manor, where local Republicans rallied for elected officials like State Senator Marty Golden and gubernatorial contender Rob Astorino, Mr. Grimm was well-received. His speech drew loud cheers and many in the crowd appeared to believe that the charges brought against him were trumped up and politically-motivated.
Speaking to the Observer after his speech, Mr. Grimm tore in Mr. Recchia, a former Brooklyn councilman. “I think his campaign has been nonexistent. Look, I think Domenic Recchia’s biggest problem is he has voted against the people of this district time and time again and they’re not going to forget that. When you raise people’s property taxes the highest in the history of New York City, 18 and a half percent, that’s not something they forget. When you vote to add more tolls to this district that’s already plagued by massive tolls, that’s not something that you forget.”
“And when this district votes overwhelmingly for term limits and then you reverse them, you ignore the will of the people and vote yourself a third term, people don’t forget that. So I think his biggest problem is himself,” Mr. Grimm added.
Mr. Recchia’s campaign, in turn, bashed Mr. Grimm for his indictment.
“No amount of Congressman Grimm’s rhetoric or antics can change the fact that he was slapped with a 20 count indictment and his constituents are the ones losing out as a result,” said Ashleigh Owens, Mr. Recchia’s campaign manager. “The people of this district deserve better.”