Rep. Michael Grimm says he is sorry for menacing a television journalist after the President’s State of the Union address on Jan. 28, but Dems are saying he is not sorry enough — and political experts say he soon may be even sorrier.
Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) threatened to throw a NY1 reporter over the Congressional balcony, then “break him in half” after the newsman inquired about a federal investigation into the pol’s campaign finances.
“I shouldn’t have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and lose my cool,” Grimm said in a statement. “I have apologized to Michael Scotto, which he graciously accepted, and will be scheduling a lunch soon.”
Scotto tweeted that he had accepted the apology, but it wasn’t enough for the ex-Marine and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent’s Democratic critics.
Forces seeking to unseat the congressman in this year’s election jumped on the incident, recalling the recent arrest of Grimm contributor Diana Durand for allegedly breaking federal campaign finance laws through donations to Grimm’s 2010 election effort. They also alluded to the ongoing investigation into whether the congressman’s fund-raisers strong-armed members of a Manhattan rabbi’s congregation into giving money to Grimm’s successful bid for the Staten Island–to–Gravesend seat.
“What exactly was Congressman Michael Grimm so afraid of discussing that he threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony?” demanded the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which funds deep-blue bids for the House of Representatives. “There’s an abundance of corruption, ethics and fund-raising controversies to choose from.”
And Grimm’s Democrat rival, ex-Coney Island Councilman Domenic Recchia, blasted the incumbent as a national disgrace.
“Michael Grimm’s behavior last night was disgraceful, completely unacceptable, and unfitting of a United States congressman. Using threats of physical violence to intimidate the press from doing their jobs is against everything our country — and our government — stands for, and is a shameful abuse of power,” Recchia wrote on his Facebook page. “He also owes the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn an apology.”
Both Democrats and Republicans in the district have questioned Recchia’s viability as a candidate due to his Brooklyn roots in a district where the majority of votes are on the Rock, and because to his ties to disgraced Kings County Democratic boss Vito Lopez. Experts said that the battlefield will still be on the other side of the Narrows, but argued that Recchia may have finally found a weapon to use against Grimm on his home turf.
“It gives the Recchia team a very good negative ad, and it makes the South Shore of Staten Island less important, because more people on the North Shore might vote for Recchia because of this incident,” said leading strategist and lobbyist Hank Sheinkopf.