Earlier today, Staten Island congressional candidate Mark Murphy held a press conference calling the incumbent representative, Michael Grimm, to task for failing to answer his questions about ongoing federal investigations into various parts of Mr. Grimm’s past. Subsequently, Mr. Grimm’s campaign hit back, hard.
“This California carpetbagger has a lot of questions about investigations but he should just ask his own father, whom everyone knows is running his campaign, because his father disgraced Staten Island when he was found guilty and sent to federal prison for his role in Operation Abscam, one of the most shameful events in the history of the US Congress,” former Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, one of Mr. Grimm’s chief political advisers, said in a statement.
Mr. Molinari’s statement was referencing various points of Mr. Murphy’s past, including his career in California and his father, a former congressman himself, getting caught up in his own congressional scandal. But Mr. Molinari didn’t stop there:
“At least the whole Island now knows that Mark Murphy is not only a failure and dead beat, but also a liar proven by his owns words to the press where he repeatedly stated he was not going to sling mud as he did today but rather stick to the issues – well it would only make sense that a candidate that wouldn’t know an issue for Staten Islander’s if it hit in the face would run nothing but a smear campaign. But it won’t work because he is up against a true American hero who has put his life on the line for this country time and time again. I know our congressman very well and his honor is beyond reproach that is something all Staten Islander’s can be confident of.”
Mr. Grimm’s campaign also provided an extended quote from the congressman himself, proclaiming his innocence and engaging Mr. Murphy a little less aggressively:
“My opponent’s theatrics today prove that he is completely unsuited to be a Member of Congress. One would think that after failing as a Hollywood actor for most of his adult life he would accept that the theater just isn’t for him.
“As a former FBI Special Agent and a Marine Corps combat veteran, I have spent most of my adult life serving this country and standing up for the rule of law. Anyone who knows me and my values understands that these allegations are false, malicious, and have no basis whatsoever in truth.
“Unlike those who have repeatedly and unlawfully leaked details of the investigation, I will not comment on grand jury proceedings out of respect for the process. This Justice Department inquiry is one investigation– which of course includes both the grand jury and FBI – and it has been reported exhaustively in the media since at least March. We have stated consistently for six months now that we contacted the Justice Department and other appropriate agencies immediately after the New York Times irresponsibly raised these anonymous, false allegations in January. Importantly, the OCE – the only agency to have completed its review – voted unanimously and on a bipartisan basis to recommend dismissing these false allegations.
“As today’s publicity stunt demonstrates, my opponent and his Democratic operatives are interested in gossip, not facts or the issues facing the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn. Because my opponent has no record of accomplishment to compare with my proven record of fighting for my constituents, he can resort only to desperate and false character attacks.”
Update: The Murphy campaign sends in their own response from campaign spokesman Nathan Smith:
“Only one candidate in this race is under multiple federal criminal investigations and his name is Michael Grimm. Period. Voters are focused on the issues that are affecting their families and their community here and now. Mark Murphy is raising the same questions that voters throughout the district are raising when he meets them—the same questions they want answered. Voters recognize that Congressman Grimm cannot serve his constituents and address issues like jobs and the economy so long as a dark cloud of federal scrutiny covers him. Instead of trying to deny his way out of these disturbing criminal inquiries, Grimm should fully cooperate with them. Voters have a clear choice in this race, Michael Grimm who is under federal criminal investigation or Mark Murphy who is focused on finding the solutions to protect middle class families.”