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Archive for the tag 'michael grimm'

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It was mostly a predictable day at the polls yesterday when it came to Southern Brooklyn races, including the reelection of two lawmakers currently facing federal charges.

The most high-profile race, of course, was that of the 11th Congressional District, in which incumbent Michael Grimm, who faces a 20-count indictment for tax evasion, staved off a challenge from Democrat Domenic Recchia.

Grimm came ahead with a 13-point lead, according to preliminary results provided by the Associated Press. He won 56,221 of the district’s Brooklyn and Staten Island votes, or 55.4 percent, to Recchia’s 42,786 votes, or 42.1 percent. A Green party candidate, Henry Bardel, picked up 2.5 percent.

Though the win itself was predictable – Recchia’s campaign gaffes became a national joke, and Siena polling showed Grimm with a 19-point lead in the days before the race – the margin is a significant victory for Grimm. In 2012, before the incumbent made headlines for the criminal charges, threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony, or having a romp in a bar bathroom, he had just shy of a six-point victory over then challenger Mark Murphy (the race was 52.6 to 46.4).

It appears the bad headlines has made Grimm even more popular among voters, or Recchia was just that much more unlikable than Murphy.

Once the dust has settled, we’ll take a look at how the vote broke down geographically to see just how much Brooklyn factored into Grimm’s reelection.

Sampson (File photo)

Sampson (File photo)

But Grimm was not the only Southern Brooklyn pol facing federal indictment to win re-election. After besting several challengers in the Democratic primary, State Senator John Sampson, who represents parts of Sheepshead Bay, Mill Basin and Canarsie, took in 86.1 percent of the vote in last night’s general election.

Sampson is facing embezzlement charges, accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sale of foreclosed homes. Just days before the election, the pol’s legal team practically admitted to the swindle in a pre-trial hearing, but argued that it occurred outside the statute of limitations. It apparently did not hurt his electoral prospects, as he took home more than 10 times the number of votes as the second place contender, Republican Elias J. Weir.

Source: Brook-Krasny’s office

Source: Brook-Krasny’s office

If there were any surprises in local races on election night, it might be the showing of Republican Stamatis Lilikakis, who challenged Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny. The district, which spans Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Dyker Heights and a sliver of waterfront connecting those neighborhoods, churned out a nail-biter as returns came in from poll sites. For the first half of the count, Brook-Krasny hovered between 50 and 51 percent. But as the night wore on, he took a dramatic lead, with 58.3 percent of the vote to Lilikakis’ 41.7.

This is another race we’ll be checking the geographic breakdown of, as it’ll be interesting to see which parts of the neighborhood snubbed Brook-Krasny.

Here’s how the rest of the races in Southern Brooklyn shook out:

Congressional

  • Congressman Hakeem Jeffries took home 91.9 percent of the vote, to Republican Alan Bellone’s 8.1 percent. Bellone did not actively campaign.
  • Yvette Clarke took home 89.5 percent to Republican Daniel Cavanagh’s 10.5 percent. Cavanagh did not actively campaign.
  • Jerrold Nadler won 87.6 percent of the vote to Conservative Ross Brady’s 11.9 percent.

State Senate

  • Senator Martin Golden had a strong showing against Democratic challenger James Kemmerer, with 69-to-31 percent of the vote. That’s significant growth compared to results in 2012, when Democrat Andrew Gounardes pulled in 41.9 percent to Golden’s 58.1 percent.
  • Senator Diane Savino did not have a challenger.
  • Senator Simcha Felder did not have a challenger.

State Assembly

  • Sheepshead Bay’s Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein took in 87.3 percent of the vote to Conservative challenger Sura Yusim’s 12.7 percent.
  • Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz bested his challenger, Ben Akselrod, with 54.4 percent of the vote to Akselrod’s 42.3 percent. This is the fourth race in a row that he’s defeated Akselrod, after winnin in both the 2012 primary and general (Akselrod ran as a Democrat, then as a Conservative) and this year’s primary and general (he ran as a Democrat, then as a Republican).
  • Bensonhurst Assemblyman Bill Colton beat Republican challenger Joseph Baranello 71 to 29 percent.
  • Borough Park and Midwood Assemblyman Dov Hikind defeated Republican Nachman Caller 78.4 to 21.6.
  • Assemblyman Peter Abbate, representing Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, received 76.2 percent of the vote to Republican Henry Lallave’s 23.8 percent.
  • The 59th Assembly District, representing Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park and Mill Basin, and vacant since Alan Maisel resigned to take a seat in the City Council, was secured by Democrat Roxanne Persaud, who bested Republican Jeffrey Ferretti 73.8 to 26.2.

For all results from last night’s general election, check out WNYC for AP results.

Election Day

Bensonhurst appears to have had a strong turnout at the polling booths this morning, thanks, in part, to sunny skies.

There were folks out campaigning for Assemblyman Peter Abbate, and Democratic candidate James Kemmerer,  Congressman Michael Grimm and State Senator Marty Golden. A dog (and his owner) even trekked out from Windsor Terrace to lobby for the Democratic ticket.

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“The turnout has been pretty brisk and the weather has a lot to do with it,” said Steven Depace, voting coordinator at P.S. 186 on 19th Avenue. “During the primaries only 20 to 30 people came out, but now we have more than double that and it’s still the slow part of the day.”

Similarly, P.S. 205 on 20th Avenue saw a really strong turnout. By 10am, there was already a 175 percent increase in voters from the numbers the school saw during the primary elections, according to volunteer Elisha Petito.

new-voting-booths

Some folks were still confused by the new fangled voting machines, though they’ve been around for two years, and at Brooklyn Studio Secondary School on 21st Avenue, two machines had technical difficulties and were not up and running until 9am. Luckily the crowds were pretty thin at that location and people weren’t waiting too long to cast their vote, according to one volunteer.

Still haven’t made it out to the polls? Here’s everything you need to know to cast your vote.

Recchia-grimm

Things are looking pretty grim for Congressman Michael Grimm’s opponent on Election Day tomorrow.

According to the most recent poll, conducted by Siena Research Institute, NY1, and Capital NY, the embattled congressman has a whopping 19-point lead over Democratic challenger Domenic M. Recchia Jr., a significant jump from the 4-point lead he held over Recchia in September.

While Grimm faces a 20-count federal indictment, former City Councilman Recchia has been blasted in recent weeks for his lack of experience and bumbling public appearances. Last week, the two candidates faced off in a heated televised debate.

Watch them going at it right here:

Don’t forget to go out and vote tomorrow!

Not sure if I should vote for the Giant Douche Or the Turd Sandwich - Not sure if I should vote for the Giant Douche Or the Turd Sandwich  Futurama Fry

Source: QuickMeme.com

One candidate is facing a 20-count indictment on charges of tax evasion. His campaign is mired with allegations of illegal contributions. Friends are likely going to prison. His associates, from mobsters to porn kings, leave much to be desired.

The other one is an empty suit of the highest order, unable to even bullshit his way through some of the simplest policy questions. He has focused instead on calling his opponent names (to be fair, a trick they’ve both used).

The race, of course is between incumbent Congressman Michael Grimm and Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia.

Faced with the prospect of endorsing one or the other, newspaper editors would be best to sit this one out. Admittedly, that’s easy for us to say – we don’t do endorsements. We think you can make up your own mind… even though voters surely face a doozy this coming Tuesday.

The Staten Island Advance is made of sterner stuff than us, I guess. They issued their endorsement this morning to Congressman Michael Grimm. It was a bit of a surprise, given that the paper has thoroughly and aggressively reported on Grimm’s woes. But the endorsement was one for the ages, as the editorial team churned out 990 words to thinly mask what was little more than a reluctant, “Mrrrph, this one I guess. Sure, whatever.”

Here are some of the highlights (paragraph breaks may have been removed to fit the list format):

  • There are, on occasion, electoral races in which both candidates are of high quality and high integrity and conduct a tough but fair campaign about the issues … The election for the House of Representatives seat in the 11th New York Congressional District is nothing like that.
  • That choice for us is Michael Grimm. Surprisingly, if a choice is to be made, Mr. Grimm should be that choice, even under these circumstances.
  • [Recchia] doesn’t bring much else to the table. His campaign strength, it would seem, is to say he’s not Michael Grimm.
  • To have Staten Island’s congressman under federal indictment has been a black mark on this borough and has made it the laughingstock of the nation … Unfortunately, his opponent’s astonishing incoherence in public statements only adds to the ridiculousness.
  • Stories about Mr. Grimm’s extra-curricaular activities are numerous. We learned that he spent considerable time in the ladies’ room of a Brooklyn tavern with a female friend, who he claimed to be counseling.  We heard he pulled a gun during a melee in a dance club in Manhattan. We heard him threaten to throw a reporter off a balcony because he didn’t like a question posed.
  • As distasteful as this contest may be on a number of levels, we have a choice to make, as do the voters. On Tuesday, Mr. Grimm is still the best practical choice for Staten Island. Our system of justice calls for us to wait until February, when he faces trial, to discover the rightness or wrongness of that decision.

It’s pretty clear the venerable editors over at the advance know their choice is between two lumps of coal. Or, rather, as South Park once so well depicted the modern American electoral system, between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich. And if that sounds like a reach, just watch this clip between the two fictionalized candidates and tell us if it really is any less substantial than the two televised debates between Grimm and Recchia:

We don’t know about you, voters of the 11th Congressional District. But we’re writing in Hypnotoad.

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Republican Congressman Michael Grimm and Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia faced off for their third debate last night, trading barbs about corruption, influence and skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee.

The televised debate was widely covered as the campaign attracts national attention, due in part to Grimm’s 20-count federal indictment and Recchia’s blunders on the campaign trail. The debate followed much the same formula, with Recchia deflecting questions of policy and focusing on the incumbent’s legal woes, while Grimm portrayed the Democrat as a left-wing ideologue unprepared for the job.

On the simpler, seemingly innocent questions, the candidates still faltered. Neither could recall the name of the last book they had read.

“These are not supposed to be stumpers,” said moderator Errol Louis, according to the New York Times.

Recchia also divulged that he has smoked pot, while Grimm said he never did, according to the Daily News.

And when the Democrat accused Grimm of skinny-dipping during a trip to Israel, the incumbent called him a liar, pointing out that, though he was there, it was a member from Kansas who took the nude plunge.

You can find more detailed coverage of the debate here:

The general election will take place November 4.

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An e-mail shows that Congressman Michael Grimm requested illegal donations to his 2010 campaign, marking the first time the representative has been directly implicated in the probe of his finances since allegations first surfaced in 2012, according to an exclusive report by the New York Post.

The email, shared with a Post reporter by an anonymous source, is from Grimm to the organization of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, requesting $10,000 donations from six people – well over the legal limit of $2,400.

The paper reports:

“We have very little time, as I need to start collecting checks as soon as today or tomorrow,” Grimm wrote in the Oct. 18, 2010, missive to Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s organization. “I think that if the Rabbi calls the six people and asks them to each write one check for the $10,000, then we can finish this in the next few days.”

Grimm went on to say he needed $190,000 to buy two weeks of television commercials and direct-mail solicitations.

“I can raise $120-$130 [thousand], but I must have the other $60,000 as soon as possible. Please e-mail me back, as I am very nervous and concerned about the final amounts of money,” he wrote in the e-mail, which was seen by The Post.

The Post’s source said that the money was given, but none of it showed up on his campaign filings. That would mean that, if true, it was funneled through multiple “straw donors” to hide the sources. Straw donors are phony donors who are given the funds to donate back to the campaign under their own names in order to keep it under the legal limit.

Diana Durand, a former flame of the congressman, pleaded guilty earlier this year to recruiting straw donors to give money to Grimm and another congressman in 2010.

Durand kept mum, and Grimm was not implicated in that case. While several instances of finance improprieties have surfaced around the congressman’s 2010 campaign, none have directly implicated the congressman of being aware of the schemes.

A spokesperson for the Grimm called the accusation “baseless,” and part of a “smear campaign.”

“The incredulous source of these baseless accusations has proven over four years to be nothing more than part of a smear campaign that does not warrant a response,” a spokesman told The Post.

Grimm’s contact in the Pinto organization, Ofer Biton, pleaded guilty to visa fraud last year, after the FBI claimed that much of the money needed to obtain a special visa for investors came from fraud and extortion. It had previously been reported that Biton sought help from Grimm in obtaining a green card after raising more than $500,000 for the pol through Pinto’s organization.

It was Pinto himself who sparked the probe into Grimm’s campaign after he told federal authorities that Biton and another close aide extorted the donations from his flock. Pinto was allegedly threatened by Israeli authorities to cease his cooperation with the FBI’s investigation or face charges in that nation; he was later charged with attempting to bribe officials.

Grimm faces unrelated charges of tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices in connection to a Manhattan-based restaurant he once owned. Biton, too, seems to have a connection to the restaurant; the congressman’s former business partner in the venture, Bennett Orfaly, put up $30,000 for Biton’s bail. Orfaly also has ties to the Gambino crime family, according to a report in the New York Times.

grimm

The trial of Congressman Michael Grimm, facing tax fraud allegations and other charges, has been postponed until February 2. At a hearing on the postponement, prosecutors hinted that some of the charges could be split from the indictment and prosecuted in a separate trial.

During a hearing on Tuesday, Grimm’s defense landed a minor victory, winning the postponement from an early December date until February 2 so that they can review materials. Prosecutors turned over approximately 100 hours of recorded conversations, including 10 hours conducted in a foreign language. The defense team said they’d need extra time to review them because, “I’d be sitting at my desk for two full working weeks,” said defense lawyer Jeffrey Neiman, according to the Staten Island Advance.

The judge also denied Grimm’s legal team’s request earlier this month for information from the prosecution that they thought would prove the investigation was the result of a political witch hunt and professional vendettas. That included knowing the involvement of particular FBI investigators and the role played by a prosecutor now running as a Democratic candidate for State Assembly.

The judge found the claims without merit, calling it “unsupported and random speculation.” The New York Times reports:

Prosecutors pointed out that there were 10 other cases involving cash payrolls to avoid taxes from 2012 to 2014, making it hard for Mr. Grimm to argue that he alone was selected. Mr. Kaminsky, they said, never acted with improper motive and was only one of several prosecutors involved in the investigation. As for the idea that the office chose Mr. Grimm for his politics, the other elected officials the office prosecuted in the last four years were Democrats, prosecutors said.

The judge is still mulling a motion to dismiss three perjury-related charges on the basis of jurisdictional issues. Because it pertained to his Manhattan-based restaurant, the defense argues that charges should have been filed in the Southern District of New York, not the Eastern District, which is where he’s being prosecuted.

The Advance notes:

Prosecutors conceded the jurisdictional issue, but Judge Pamela Chen stopped short of dismissing those three counts without prejudice Tuesday, as Grimm’s defense team is still seeking to dismiss the entire case, perjury charges and all, arguing “selective and vindictive prosecution.”

“In effect, the venue motion is really a separation motion of the perjury and obstruction counts, effectively resulting in two trials for the price of one,” Gatta said. “We’re happy to oblige the defendant if he wants two trials.”

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When news broke in 2012 that Congressman Michael Grimm was the target of a federal investigation, the pol said it was a liberal media conspiracy. Now the pol’s defense team is depicting it as a political witch hunt led by a prosecutor with electoral aspirations, and aided by former FBI colleagues settling a score.

Grimm pleaded not guilty to a 20-count indictment that alleges, among other things, tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices connected to a restaurant he owned before running for office. The trial is set to begin in December, but the pol’s legal team sent a pair of letters earlier this month that appear to suggest the direction their defense will take – not one that clears his name of tax fraud, but one that says he was only caught because the prosecution sought to take down a Republican.

Staten Island Advance reports:

In a letter dated Oct. 1, Grimm’s lawyers, Jeffrey A. Neiman and Daniel Rashbaum, fired off a list of 14 questions to federal prosecutors, many asking about the role of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Kaminsky in the investigation into the congressman.

Kaminsky, a Democrat, left the U.S. attorney’s office after the tax evasion indictment was announced to run for state Assembly.

“What role did former Assistant United States Attorney Todd Kaminsky have in the investigation of Mr. Grimm?” one question asks.

“When did Mr. Kaminsky first notify the United States Attorney’s Office of his intention to seek political office, informally or formally?” asks another.

… Grimm’s team also asked what role FBI Supervisory Special Agent Anthony Bivona and Assitant Special Agent in Charge Mary Gallingan played in the investigation, as well as many other indictments the U.S. Attorney’s office has sought in the past five years regarding restaurants paying employees in cash, under-reporting cash sales to the Internal Rvenue Service, or “hiring illegal aliens as employees.”

Neiman and Rashbaum wrote a second letter on Oct. 1, asking for documents, notes, copies of inconsistent statements, and criminal or psychiatric histories of witnesses in the case.

In a response dated October 2, Lynch’s office said they would provide relevant info prior to trial as required by law. But her office bristled at the 14 questions, saying they were neither pertinent, nor legally required.

“It should be noted, however, that the 14 questions about the investigation and other cases seek information that is irrelevant to the charges of this case…. The government therefore respectfully declines to provide the information sought in these 14 requests,” Lynch writes.

The Daily News has a little more about the request for information regarding the special agents:

Team Grimm appears poised to take on supervisory FBI Special Agents Anthony Bivona and Mary Galligan. Sources said Bivona had a falling-out with Grimm and Galligan led an internal probe of Grimm before he left the bureau.

SILive.com has full copies of the letters.

The New York Post scored an interesting story full of international intrigue and allegations of political corruption, and it stars the already embattled Congressman Michael Grimm.

The paper reports:

A top official in Israel tried to intimidate the rabbi who claims Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm shook him down for donations, sources familiar with the investigation told The Post.

The FBI is investigating allegations by Orthodox mystic Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who testified against Grimm in 2010.

In 2011, then-Israeli Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, a follower of the rabbi, visited Pinto at his home in the city of Ashdod in southern Israel and told him that if he continued to cooperate with the FBI, “you’re going to have a disaster in Israel,” a source told The Post. “In Israel they’re going to ruin you.”

“The rabbi started off as a victim and did the right thing by seeking out law enforcement, and now has been victimized once again,” said Arthur Aidala, Pinto’s Manhattan lawyer. He has been joined by famed attorney Alan Dershowitz, who is a follower and longtime friend of the rabbi.

It is unclear whether Grimm was directly involved, but Pinto’s supporters believe he exerted his own pressure on Israeli power brokers fearful of losing the Republican congressman as a supporter.

Pinto, of course, did ultimately testify against the pol. He was later indicted in Israel for attempting to bribe officials, looting a charity and other charges.

Congressman Grimm is slated to go to court in December, after the elections, to face charges of tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices in an apparently unrelated case. Prosecutors said they’re still investigating the pol’s fundraising activities, and no charges have been filed in that probe.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is deep in a campaign to register new voters across the nation in their hopes of taking back the House. In the 11th District, currently represented by Michael Grimm, the initiative has seen 6,600 new voters enter the fray.

The nationwide effort is being hailed as “an unprecedented field operation” and has already racked up more than 60,000 new voter registrations. It’s fueled by a well-financed campaign committee war-chest that dwarfs the Republican’s coffers by about $33 million.

With more than 500 paid staffers dispatched to 48 districts around the nation, the 11th District held by Grimm is being seen as a top-prize.

It’s Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia who stands to benefit from the new registrants. Although not all the new voters are bound to be Democrats since even DCCC employees must sign up anybody that asks, it’s more than likely they focused their new enrollment efforts in neighborhoods – particularly including Brooklyn – that lean Democratic.

To get an idea of the effect 6,600 new voters can have on this election, keep in mind that in the 2012 election only about 37,000 votes were cast – so 6,600 votes would be approximately 20 percent growth.

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