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Archive for the tag 'campaigns'

Former Councilman Domenic Recchia, who is challenging embattled Congressman Michael Grimm, released his campaign’s first television ad this week. The message appears to be an attempt to boost his Staten Island credentials.

The ad, called “Saturday,” follows the Democratic candidate on what it claims is a “typical Saturday.” He heads to Staten Island to take care of mom, back to Brooklyn to shuttle his daughters around, returns to the Island for a nephew’s ballgame, then Brooklyn again, then the Island, then… you get the idea.

If you were hoping the ad might have something about his stance on federal issues like, say, military spending or corporate tax incentives or a federal marriage equality proposal – well, keep hoping. It ain’t in this ad. Instead it says he’ll fight for lower tolls on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge – a state issue – because he doesn’t want to go broke spending all that time in Staten Island.

But, hey, there’s a lot of Staten Island in there. That’s probably a response to the often-touted political wisdom that a Brooklyn candidate can’t represent the Island, which has made us wonder whether an Island rep can represent Brooklyn.

It’s not the only campaign advertising going around. Grimm, a Republican, seems to be short on the ad front, which probably has something to do with his mounting debt and fundraising issues. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is piling on with a video ad that’s been bombarding my Pandora account, called “Charges.” It looks like a pretty good flick.

grimm2Congressman Michael Grimm, facing a 20-count indictment on tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices, may now head to trial in October, a month before elections.

SILive reports:

Speaking at a status conference in Brooklyn federal court on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gatta said that motion procedures and hearings in the case could be held by the end of September, with a trial to begin the following month.

… Gatta said that the discovery in the case is “not particularly voluminous” and that the case itself “is fairly straightforward.”

Grimm’s new attorney, Daniel Rashbaum, said that that “schedule may be OK. I don’t know yet.”

He sought a three- or four-week delay so that he could look at the evidence. By then, Rashbaum said, he’d have a better idea “what the discovery looks like in my mind.”

But U.S. District Court Judge Pamela K. Chen said she would give Rashbaum, who notified the court last week that he was taking over the defense, two weeks to “dive into the material.”

Prior to the conference yesterday, observers believed Grimm would not go to trial until after the November 4 elections, when he faces off against Democrat Domenic Recchia. If the prosecution’s request for an October court date is granted, it would be a significant blow to the pol, who will have to fight simultaneously for his seat and his freedom.

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Grimm

Legal and financial troubles appear to be fueling recruitment troubles at the offices of beleaguered Congressman Michael Grimm if a desperate-sounding e-mail to colleagues is any indication.

Politico reports:

Grimm’s deputy chief of staff sent an email Wednesday afternoon asking downtowners to help her find a health and education legislative assistant.

“As you can imagine it hasn’t been easy to find a qualified candidate who wants to live on the edge and take a chance working for Rep. Grimm,” wrote [Grimm's Deputy Chief of Staff] Blaire Bartlett. “Ideally this person would have legislative experience. Hill experience would be great and NYC experience would be amazing, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?”

I don’t know about legislative assistants, but if he needs some social media help I know a group of 16-year-old girls who’d love to pitch in.

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Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm raised just $23,430 for his reelection campaign last month, less than a tenth of the $261,693 pulled in by his opponent, Democrat Domenic Recchia.

The Observer reports:

The campaign’s Schedule A form lists just 18 individual donors — some of them residing at the same address — though some made more than one transaction. Three of the donors are associated with the Savo Brothers construction firm, with each giving $1,300 in July. The firm has drawn the ire of many on Staten Island after it purchased a former Jesuit retreat space, Mount Manresa, where it plans to tear down old-growth trees and building hundreds of townhouses. The Savos have also donated to other local officials in the past.

… Mr. Grimm’s [approximately $13,000 in] expenditures for the month were limited to payroll costs for just a handful of campaign staffers, administrative expenses like cell phone bills and one $250 expense for an ad with a local Rolling Thunder motorcycle group.

With little cash to spend on mailings or television ads, the skilled retail politician has been hitting local events like parades and festivals in his district, where the he’s often overwhelmed by people who want to take pictures with him or shake his hand.

The congressman’s campaign warchest began showing signs of distress in the spring, after Grimm was slapped with a 20-count indictment for mail fraud, tax evasion and perjury. He’s receiving no support from national Republicans, and it appears all but a handful of local boosters have backed away.

Grimm also faces double-duty for fundraising. In addition to his campaign, he’s won approval to create a legal defense fund to fight the charges against him.

The filings show he slightly more than $1 million on hand, although the campaign carries $438,565 in debt stemming from his legal defense as part of a separate investigation into alleged improprieties in his campaign fundraising.

Recchia has just shy of $1.3 million cash on hand with no debt, giving him a significant spending advantage.

grimm2Amid legal troubles connected to a 20-count indictment for mail fraud, tax evasion and perjury, Congressman Michael Grimm’s campaign cash is drying up – and donors are turning their backs. On the bright side for the lawmaker, he received permission last week to raise money specifically to cover the costs of his legal bills.

The Hill reports:

[Grimm] raised just $47,000 from April 1 through June 4, according to his preprimary filings with the Federal Election Commission. Some of that he had to refund, meaning he brought in just over $44,000. The filings reveal that most of that money was raised prior to his indictment, and his fundraising slowed significantly afterwards.

He spent more than $214,000 during that time, including a $40,000 payment to his attorneys at Patton Boggs.

The article goes on to note that the campaign is $420,000 in debt, largely due to legal fees, and that his Democratic opponent, former City Councilmember Domenic Recchia, raised $144,000 during the same period, for a total of $1.07 million. Grimm has $1 million on hand.

Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee has greenlighted Grimm’s request to set up a legal defense fund, allowing him to turn to his remaining supporters to help raise cash to fight legal charges. According to paperwork, the money will be spent on “matters bearing on his reputation or fitness for office.”

The new fund was necessary due to the nature of the charges. Although House representatives can use campaign funds to cover legal bills associated to the campaign – such as the ongoing federal probe into Grimm’s 2010 campaign fundraising – they cannot be used for criminal or civil charges on matters connected to anything other than his activities seeking or staying in office. The current charges stem from alleged tax evasion and illegal employment practices while operating a restaurant he co-owned prior to seeking office.

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Gentile (Source: Gentile’s office)

Councilman Vincent Gentile of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst confirmed to the New York Observer that he is considering a challenge to State Senator Marty Golden, and told the paper that he sees the Republican’s support drying up.

If he runs and wins it will be a sort of homecoming for the pol, who represented the district in the State Senate between 1996 and 2002, before being unseated by Golden. After losing office that year, Gentile ran in and won the special election for the City Council seat vacated by Golden – meaning the two effectively swapped seats.

Gentile told the paper that the recent show of support for restoring Democratic control of the State Senate is galvanizing his interest. The Observer reports:

“It would take a lot to pull me away but certainly I understand the bigger issues in our state and the goal of getting a Democratic State Senate so based on that I am getting the input I should be getting and we’ll see in a week or two,” Mr. Gentile said at City Hall yesterday. “I am enjoying my job but I’m saying there are bigger issues here.”

The Observer’s story came on the heels of another report that a coalition was emerging to flip Republican seats in the Senate, and was eyeing Golden in particular. The coalition was birthed during the Working Families Party convention, during which Cuomo pledged to support Democrats running for the legislative body and to break the power-sharing alliance between the Republicans and the Independent Democratic Caucus in exchange for their nomination.

NY State of Politics was the first to report that the coalition was floating Gentile as a challenger, but it had not been confirmed until the Observer report. A source told the outlet that approximately $1 million has already been earmarked to unseat Golden.

Gentile is optimistic that the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst portions of the Senate district are increasingly Democratic, boosting his chances – although he also slipped in a slap at the incumbent Senator for gerrymandering the district to rope in as many Republican enclaves as possible.

“I think my area has become more Democratic and eventually there will be smaller and smaller pockets that Marty Golden can rely upon so if it’s not this cycle, there will be a cycle very soon where he will not have the same deep support that he used to have in the same district that he drew, that he drew the lines for,” Gentile told the Observer.

While that may be true in Bay Ridge, Golden remains popular in Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach – conservative-leaning areas where Gentile is relatively unknown.

What this means for another Democratic challenger to Golden, Jamie Kemmerer, is not yet known. Kemmerer told this outlet last month that he decided to run only once Gentile personally urged him to do so. Kemmerer could drop out and throw his support behind Gentile if he chooses to run – or he could squabble with his former backer in a primary.

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Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm faces a 20-count indictment for tax evasion and illegal employment practices stemming from a restaurant he operated before running for Congress, charges he said are because the nation’s commander-and-chief wants to see him gone.

Grimm made the allegations against the Obama administration on Tuesday before a gathering of Republican supporters rallying for gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino. He also compared the United States to oppressive regimes in Iran and North Korea.

New York Observer reported on the statements:

“They change policy, they use regulation to legislate, they circumvent the Congress–this is now the norm for the Obama administration,” Mr. Grimm fumed at the Bay Ridge Manor in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

“And when you look and see why they come after me so hard, every day another negative story [against] the only Republican in New York City, it becomes obvious: they don’t want any opposition. This administration wants to do what it wants to do and they want you to forget about the America that you grew up in,” he said.

… “Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m not sure what country I’m living in,” he said. “Four Americans are killed and murdered in Benghazi–no one’s held accountable …. The IRS, arguably the most feared agency in our entire government targeting people because of their political views. Now this happens in Iran, this happens in North Korea, but this is the United States of America.”

The site reported that the statements “drew loud cheers.”

Grimm has long maintained that the investigation against him, which began as a probe into his 2010 campaign fundraising, was a “political witch hunt” by Democrats looking to see the city’s lone Republican congressman unseated. Prosecutors, however, have submitted paperwork to the court suggesting that Grimm’s own documents show he kept two sets of books and paid employees – some of which were undocumented immigrants – in cash to avoid taxes.

Grimm’s assertion that he is the subject of political retaliation has sparked snark from colleagues, including State Senator Diane Savino. The pol, whose district is largely within Grimm’s, let forth a tirade on Facebook about Grimm’s conspiracy theory back in April:

[G]et a grip folks, Mikey is not that important, he is no threat to the power structure, he is a slick talker with a nice resume who seems to be in trouble. he was not on track for greatness as a national leader, not on track to upset the national scene. Conspiracy, please….

Grimm pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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Cortese (Source: Facebook)

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.

Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm kept a cell phone registered to his undercover, mob-connected FBI alter-ego years after leaving the job, and continued to use the phone while in Congress, according to a Daily News report.

The paper cites documents released by the U.S. Attorney earlier this week that outlines their evidence in their case against Grimm, who is accused of a $1 million tax fraud scheme, as well as illegal hiring and employment practices.

The paper reports:

Rep. Michael Grimm, who posed as a mobbed-up stockbroker named Michael (Mikey Suits) Garabaldi while working undercover for the FBI, kept his wise-guy alter ego even after entering Congress, newly unsealed federal documents show.

Grimm’s cell phone was listed under a “Michael Garibaldi of Centurian Consulting” as recently as 2012, when prosecutors sought a court order for permission to track all his calls, the documents show.

The embattled Staten Island Republican, who is now under federal indictment, used the phone as his primary number as recently as last year, and even received mail addressed to a Michael Garibaldi, a source told The Daily News.

Grimm, his spokesman and his lawyer did not respond to questions Wednesday about why he used the alias more than six years after leaving the FBI — and for at least two years after entering the U.S. House in January 2011.

The story also reveals the extent of the investigation into Grimm’s 2010 campaign fundraising. That investigation came to light shortly after it began in 2012, first noted by the New York Times, yet it was unclear how far-reaching it was. The new documents show that not only were Grimm’s phone lines were being monitored by authorities, but also that of gal pal Diana Durand, who has been indicted for her alleged role in funneling illegal funds to the Republican pol, and Grimm associates Ofer Biton and Ronn Torossian, who they believed, along with Grimm, has attempted to extort money from prominent Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Pinto.

Biton has also been arrested, and is cooperating in the government’s case against Grimm.

Grimm did not respond to the paper’s requests for comment, or those of the Staten Island Advance.

In fact, he appears to be dodging questions about the investigation, having made headlines yet again this week for jumping into a car and making a getaway from this FOX Detroit reporter:

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Grimm

Federal prosecutors have released documents outlining the government’s case against Congressman Michael Grimm, revealing that Grimm’s own texts and e-mails are being entered as evidence alongside testimony from former employees and business associates.

The Daily News reports:

The preliminary list of evidence includes emails between Grimm and a “Healthalicious manager,” “documents provided by a cooperat[ing] witness,” and “records provided by a Healthalicious employee.” Also listed are “text messages between Grimm and a cooperating witness.”

The list of evidence indicates a seemingly straightforward federal case. Prosecutors plan to prove Grimm maintained a false set of books and lied in financial filings. They will contrast the phony forms with material provided by cooperating witnesses, and with Grimm’s own statements in texts and emails.

Prosecutors are turning over an extensive list of financial documents. Those include years of tax, health and labor filings by Healthalicious and its parent company, Granny Sayz, records of Grimm’s personal finances, the restaurant’s accounts, bank account and credit card records and financial disclosure forms Grimm filed in Congress from 2009 to 2012.

Prosecutors are also offering as evidence the IRS 1040 forms filed by Bennett Ofraly, Grimm’s partner in the restaurant who prosecutors say has ties to the Gambino crime family, which Grimm once investigated while an FBI agent.

Grimm pleaded not guilty to the 20-count indictment alleging the local pol hid more than $1 million in sales at a business he owned to avoid paying taxes, as well as illegally employing undocumented immigrants.

The charges surround the operations of Upper East Side eatery Healthalicious, a venture he ran from 2007 to 2010. However, he’s also charged with perjury for lying to investigators about the business’ operations when he was questioned in 2013, while already serving in the House of Representatives.

It appears the case will not be resolved until after the November 4 elections, in which he faces a challenge from Democrat Domenic Recchia.

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