NEW YORK – The New York Post reported on April 29 that only hours after Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm announced that he would be indicted for alleged tax fraud on April 25, Brooklyn/Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who recently announced her plans to run for another term in that capacity, began to position herself for a run at Grimm’s potentially-vacated House seat.
On Monday, Grimm was indicted on 20 counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud, filing false tax returns, hiring unauthorized aliens and perjury. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in Brooklyn.
When The National Herald called Malliotakis’ office to inquire about the situation, she emphasized her current responsibilities: The allegations leveled against Congressman Grimm are serious, but they do not negate the fact that he has been a tireless servant for the people of his district. Like many, I question the timing of this indictment. While due process takes place, we cannot allow this to distract us from Sandy recovery and the other pressing issues facing our community. I remain focused on working for my constituents as their representative in the State Assembly,” said Malliotakis
The article in the Post reported that Malliotakis was on the phone with fellow Republican and Greek-American John Catsimatidis, the billionaire businessman who ran for Mayor of New York City last year. “She did say she has interest,” Catsimatidis told the Post, “if she wants to go after the seat, look, she was very helpful in my campaign, and I always support my friends.”
The Post also reported that Malliotakis telephoned the National Republican Committee on April 28, indicating that she is ready to run, though she has reportedly denied having done so and did not comment about her intentions, one way or another, to run for Grimm’s seat.
Last week, upon Malliotakis’ announcement for reelection to the State Assembly, she reported Grimm’s praiseworthy words about her: She “will not sell out and do the politically expedient thing. She leaves everything in the arena.”
If indeed she ran, and won, Malliotakis would become the first Greek-American member of Congress from New York.
CNN reported that a federal prosecutor said that “Grimm failed to report more than $1 million in sales and wages at a Manhattan restaurant he once ran, using unreported cash to pay workers ‘off the books’ to ‘evade taxes and keep more money for himself’…A former FBI agent who used to investigate fraud, Grimm wore a dark suit and was not handcuffed during the hearing.. He was released on $400,000 bond, secured by his home in Staten Island. As conditions for his release, Grimm, 44, must surrender his guns and passport.”
“An indictment unsealed on Monday after a probe of more than two years alleges Grimm lied to investigators about his taxes after leaving the Healthalicious restaurant to run for Congress.
He “never met a tax he didn’t lie to evade,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said,” according to CNN.
The Huffington Post noted that “Prosecutors didn’t immediately specify the exact charges, but investigators have been examining his fundraising in a 2010 race.”
FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos was quoted “As a former FBI agent, Rep. Grimm should understand the motto: Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity…Grimm “lived by a new motto: Fraud, Perjury and Obstruction.”
WHAT HAPPENS IN NOVEMBER?
The Washington Post wrote that “Republicans face the prospect that the indictment could cost them their only congressional seat in New York City, as Grimm was already facing a formidable challenge from former City Council member Domenic M. Recchia Jr., a Democrat.”
Grimm said, “I’m going to fight tooth and nail … until I am fully exonerated,” and that he would remain in office while fighting the charges. He does not have major primary opposition at the moment, and the general election is on November 4.
Analysts scrambled to determine what would happen were Grimm to back down and resign.
A congressional vacancy would require a special election, but the rules vary in each state.
The National Herald was informed that as things stand, whether he resigned or not, Grimm’s name would still be on the ballot. One of the reasons Republicans are so angry about the indictments is that they occurred after deadlines passed for potential challengers like Malliotakis to be able to run in the Republican primary in September.
One analyst suggested, however, that she could mount a write-in campaign.