Congressman Michael Grimm, once considered a popular rising star in the Republican party, is finding fewer friends at his side as the government continues to pursue a criminal case against him. Over the weekend, news broke that his campaign’s only full-time employee, campaign manager Bill Cortese, ditched his post for brighter horizons.
Daily News, which broke the story, reports:
A person familiar with the decision said Bill Cortese — the campaign’s only full-time employee — made his exit after donors snapped their wallets shut when Grimm was indicted last month.
“He is not getting off the ballot and he is going to run a campaign with the D.C. money shut off, the Wall Street money shut off,” the person said. “There is no PAC money. He is going to have to cut costs and retool the campaign.
“Everything changed with indictment.”
… The National Republican Congressional Committee cut off financial and strategic support for Grimm after his indictment, and other big donors backed away due to his legal woes.
Staten Island Advance takes note of the timing:
The news came the same day as an announcement that the House Ethics Committee had formed an investigative subcommittee to probe Grimm the wake of his 20-count indictment on federal tax evasion and other charges. The subcommittee will defer any investigation until the Justice Department finishes with Grimm.
Cortese was hardly a longtime member of the campaign. He joined the team shortly after Grimm made headlines in January for threatening to throw a reporter off the balcony of the Capitol building. Cortese previously did stings at Mercury Public Affairs, and also worked for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Since Cortese joined the team, Grimm was indicted for federal tax evasion and illegal employment practices, among other charges, stemming from his ownership of a Manhattan restaurant prior to joining Congress. It appears Grimm associates who had previously been arrested for illegal campaign fundraising in relation to his 2010 campaign provided key information to the government that led to the tax evasion charges.