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Disgraced Ex-Congressman Grimm Eyeing Run for Staten Island Boro President

By Nicholas Rizzi | March 15, 2017 2:51pm
 Former Congressman Michael Grimm, who left office after he pleaded guilty to tax fraud, is mulling a run for Staten Island Borough President, sources said.
Former Congressman Michael Grimm, who left office after he pleaded guilty to tax fraud, is mulling a run for Staten Island Borough President, sources said.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

STATEN ISLAND — Former Congressman Michael Grimm, who spent seven months behind bars after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges, could be trying to make a return to politics, sources said.

Grimm is currently weighing a decision to run in the GOP primary against incumbent Borough President James Oddo, according to insiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"His real goal is Congress, he wants redemption, maybe this is a step towards that," said one insider. "I imagine that he would have trouble going right into a congressional race."

Telephone polls have begun on Grimm's behalf to gauge voters support in a race against Oddo, and he regularly meets with local Republican powerbroker Guy Molinari, the Staten Island Advance first reported.

Shortly after winning re-election to Congress, Grimm pleaded guilty to tax fraud in 2014 for underreporting more than $1 million in profits from an Upper East Side eatery he co-owned before he took office.

He was sentenced to eight months behind bars — but only served seven — and was ordered to pay back nearly $150,000 in restitution.

Aside from his tax fraud conviction, Grimm had several other scandals during his time in office, including threatening to throw a NY1 reporter off a balcony and break him in half "like a boy."

Since his release from prison, Grimm started to float the idea of running for BP and still remains popular among Republican voters in the borough despite the scandals, sources said.

"A lot of people think he was unfairly targeted, it was a political attack," a source said. "They still believe, maybe he wasn't a saint, but he did his job well and he was kind of unfairly removed."

While some voters might get behind Grimm's return to office, another GOP insider said he will face resistance from party officials and electeds.

"I think a lot of elected officials would be disappointed, especially those that were supportive of him when times got tough," he said.

Molinari could not be reached for comment, but told the Advance he only meets with Grimm as friends, not to strategize another run.

If Grimm does decide to run, he'll have to face off against Oddo in the primary, who sources said polls as one of the most popular elected officials in the borough.

While Oddo has already raised $72,080 for his November re-election, the Advance reported last month that he's eyeing a run for surrogate judgeship next year.

"My reaction to anyone who is contemplating running against me is the same: 'come get some,'" Oddo said in a statement. 

"The fact is I am confident in the relationship my staff and I have built with the people of Staten Island, a relationship we have built through our hard work, our integrity, and our authenticity."

One source said that the reports of Oddo looking for a new job could hurt him in a primary if he had to square off against Grimm.

"[Voters might think] 'Why am I going to vote for this guy when he's got a foot out the door?'" the source said, adding he think Oddo would defeat Grimm anyway. "That's something that will be exploited."

However, another source said Grimm — who was being investigated for campaign fraud — may have already violated Campaign Finance Board rules since a poll was done on his behalf, but his camp has not filed anything to disclose any funds raised for a campaign.