Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Another Convict in Congress

Rep. Michael Grimm, who pleaded guilty last week to felony tax evasion after winning election to a third term, has his priorities straight. He plans to stay in Congress for as long as he can before going to jail.

Michael GrimmEven though Grimm copped to a single felony count, prosecutors in the case say the New York Republican signed a statement “admitting to the conduct underlying every charge filed against him.” The original 20-count indictment was quite a list.

“Michael Grimm has now publicly admitted that he hired unauthorized workers whom he paid ‘off the books’ in cash, took deliberate steps to obstruct the federal and state governments from collecting taxes he properly owed, cheated New York State out of workers’ compensation insurance premiums, caused numerous false business and personal tax returns to be filed for several years, and lied under oath to cover up his crimes,” according to the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York.

Many guilty parties insist on their innocence and only make jailhouse confessions after they are convicted. Grimm told voters in his congressional district he was the victim of a political witch hunt and waited to admit his guilt until he was safely back in the Big House.

Even though some Republicans say Grimm should go, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters he isn’t pushing his GOP colleague out the window, at least just yet. Boehner said he is giving Grimm time over the holidays to chill out at home. Most people with a rap sheet like Grimm’s would be chilling out in homes with bars, armed guards and an industrial-zized laundry. And remember Grimm is the guy who threatened to throw a reporter over the railing in the Capitol.

Boehner has had quite a bit of recent experience dealing with wayward colleagues.

Louisiana Congressman Vance McAllister was caught on camera smooching a female staffer. McAllister’s constituents saved Boehner the trouble of a messy situation by ousting the kissing congressman in this year’s Republican primary.

Last January, Florida Congressman Trey Radel resigned following a sting operation during which he purchased cocaine from a cop. Turns out the resignation didn’t come until word leaked out about the sting. Nobody in the GOP leadership apparently asked him to quit.

Grimm may still face the wrath of his indignant congressional brethren, especially if Democrats and the news media make a big deal about someone serving in Congress instead of Sing Sing. In that case, pressure could build in the cloakroom that forces Grimm out the door, at least of the cloakroom.

It’s conceivable the House could expel Grimm. Democratic Ohio Congressman Jim Traficent was expelled in 2002 after his conviction on 10 felony counts, including bribery. He also didn’t see what all the fuss was about.

Democrats don’t exactly have clean hands when it comes to overlooking miscreant colleagues who stretched or broke the law. So maybe Grimm figures if Republicans reject him, he can always switch parties.

Worthy of note is that Grimm pleaded guilty on the same day the House Ethics Committee reminded its congressional flock of required ethics training. It could be an opportunity for Grimm to shine by providing first-hand insight on lying to constituents, wire fraud, income tax evasion and hiring illegal immigrants.

Of course, giving illegal immigrants a path to legitimacy may get Grimm in political trouble with the House Republican Conference. That’s the kind of problem that can lead to a real trouble.





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