Democrats on Thursday said Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R-N.Y.) show of support for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was an attempt to distract from a federal investigation into the congressman’s campaign finances.
“It’s [sic] comes as no surprise that Congressman Michael Grimm who is currently being investigated by the FBI himself, would be one of the first elected officials in the country to come to Chris Christie’s defense,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spokesman Marc Brumer in a statement.
Grimm was indeed one of the first, and few, congressmen to praise Christie following the press conference the governor held to address new revelations that implicated one of the governor's a top staffers in lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that snarled traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., for four days in September.
Democrats accused the Christie administration of orchestrating the closures as political retribution against Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor, who declined to endorse Christie for reelection last year. The emails released Wednesday were the clearest indication yet of misconduct within his administration.
Christie on Thursday announced the firing of one staffer, the removal of another from two key positions, and apologized for the conduct. Grimm praised him in a statement as demonstrating “true leadership and accountability.”
A group of New Jersey legislators, as well as the U.S. attorney, are currently investigating the bridge lane closures.
Grimm is facing his own investigation, with the FBI and the House Ethics Committee probing him over allegations that he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions, among other things.
Democrats see the ongoing investigation as a political liability for him, and hope that this will be the year they’ll finally be able to unseat him.
He defeated his Democratic opponent by just 5 points in the last cycle, and New York’s 11th is a swing district that switched parties and went for Obama in 2012.
Republicans were unphased by the attack on Grimm.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ian Prior knocked Democrats’ likely candidate, Brooklyn City Councilman Domenic Recchia, for a letter he wrote to a federal judge seeking leniency for a mobster and his support for a policy that would charge drivers in downtown Manhattan during peak hours a fee.
“Speaking of traveling to federal court, when Domenic Recchia went there last month to plead leniency for Colombo crime boss Carmine Persico’s mobster son-in-law, did Carmine pay for Domenic to get there in a fully stocked stretch limo? And while we’re talking about traffic in New York, let’s not forget that the DCCC’s anointed candidate Recchia voted for a plan to charge drivers $8 to enter Manhattan below 60th St. which would have cost Staten Island drivers millions,” he said.
“So ‘traffic talk’ is probably not a winning conversation for Recchia and his Washington surrogates.”