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In Defense of Michael Grimm
Why the indicted congressman's constituents still seem to like him.


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Schumer could gain if Grimm were to resign or lose re-election. As the only Republican holding federal elected office from New York City, Grimm has an important spot in the city’s politics. Schumer currently holds an unofficial position as the city’s most important politician, and there have been whispers in political circles that Schumer feared running against Grimm for Senate in the future. With Grimm arrested or simply no longer running, Schumer’s position as the Big Apple’s big cheese is secure.

The charges Grimm currently faces, however, do not stem from campaign fundraising, which was the original focus of the FBI’s investigation, but from a small health food restaurant Grimm owned before he became an elected official. All of the charges derive from paying restaurant employees, some of whom were illegal aliens, in cash. Many if not most of New York City’s business owners could be arrested on the same charge. Did it really take the Justice Department more than two years to figure out that Grimm paid busboys in cash?

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I was in my hometown this past weekend, and noted that Staten Islanders, according to local media still seem to support the congressman. Grimm’s constituents feel he represents them well in Washington. Indeed, Grimm’s flood insurance bill, H.R. 3370, truly helped Superstorm Sandy victims whose flood insurance rates skyrocketed after the storm.

The day after  Sandy hit, the congressman ordered everyone on his campaign staff, including me, to come to Staten Island and help with the recovery. I watched as Grimm slogged through mud and water, joined Staten Islanders to pull treasured items out of their homes, helped them get their cars started, and simply allowed them to cry on his shoulder.

We set up a headquarters in the Staten Island Hilton and Grimm was often the last to leave, around midnight or later. He was often scolded by his staff for not getting in front of the cameras enough to discuss all he was doing. Few politicians I know (and I know a few) would have done so much physically and emotionally demanding work themselves.

I do not work for the congressman anymore. For me the only potential effect of this indictment is the likelihood that my home district, where my mother still lives, will go into the hands of a dunce like Recchia and my beloved Brooklyn will fall further into the abyss of Democratic control.

However, I do know that Grimm is an excellent representative to his district and was an excellent boss to me.  Grimm offered me my first job out of college and helped me along my career path. I have always considered him one of the good ones, and I still do. Without making any judgments about a matter for the courts, I hope New York City, the center of American culture and thought, will not go further to the wolves, the donkeys.

— Christine Sisto is an editorial assistant at National Review.



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