Rep. Michael Grimm stepped down Monday evening from the House Financial Services Committee, hours after the Staten Island Republican was charged with evading taxes on a restaurant he used to own.
Grimm told Republican House Speaker John Boehner he should be removed from the panel but said he plans to return once his legal issues are resolved. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi had sent a letter to Boehner saying Grimm should be removed, and a Boehner spokesman said the speaker believes the decision to step down was appropriate.
House members suspected of crimes sometimes win re-election, but an indictment typically leads to resignation or defeat at the polls.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said investigators uncovered the restaurant fraud as they conducted a broader — and ongoing — campaign finance probe.
The 20-count indictment alleges the tax fraud began in 2007 after Grimm retired from the FBI and began investing in an Upper East Side eatery called Healthalicious. It accused him of trying to evade payroll, income and sales taxes by paying his workers, some in the country illegally, in cash. Grimm left the business in 2010, the year he won his first term in Congress.
The filing deadline to declare a candidacy in New York passed on April 10, meaning that Grimm is the Republicans’ only hope of keeping the seat.
Jerry Goldfeder, an election law expert, wrote Monday in City & State that the only chance of getting a different candidate on the GOP ticket is by nominating Grimm to a federal judgeship. That would force him to drop his congressional campaign since state law bans running for two offices simultaneously.
However, the Republicans would be loath to make such a move and open themselves to Democratic ridicule.
Also, Grimm insisted Monday that he was a “moral man, a man of integrity,” and would fight to clear his name.