Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.), who pleaded guilty in federal court last week to felony tax fraud, announced late Monday that he will resign from Congress effective next week.
Grimm pleaded guilty in federal court last week to felony tax fraud. He privately told House Republican leaders Monday that he will resign, following calls from Democrats for him to step down.
“After much thought and prayer, I have made the very difficult decision to step down from Congress effective January 5th, 2015,” Grimm said in a statement. “This decision is made with a heavy heart, as I have enjoyed a very special relationship and closeness with my constituents, whom I care about deeply.
He added: “The events which led to this day did not break my spirit,” he added, “nor the will of the voters. However, I do not believe that I can continue to be 100 percent effective in the next Congress, and therefore, out of respect for the Office and the people I so proudly represent, it is time for me to start the next chapter of my life.”
Grimm spoke with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) by phone Monday, according to Republicans familiar with the exchange.
Grimm could face up to three years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 8.
The congressman was indicted this year on 20 counts of misconduct in connection with a Manhattan health food restaurant he co-owned before he became a member of Congress. As a part of his plea, the other charges will be dismissed without prejudice, his attorney, Stuart N. Kaplan, said in an e-mail last week.
First elected in 2010, Grimm represents a district that includes Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. He is a former FBI agent with a reputation for being intense and at times combative.
After President Obama's State of the Union address this year, Grimm threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony after the reporter questioned him about his legal standing. He later apologized.
It will be up to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to decide whether to hold a special election to fill his seat, which could be at risk of falling into Democratic hands. Obama won 52 percent of the district in 2012.
"If things don't go my way, and I had to step down in January, then there will be a special election," Grimm told WABC radio in October. "At least the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn would have qualified people to choose from."
Boehner has avoided commenting publicly on Grimm since the congressman pleaded guilty. His allies said he was waiting to speak directly to Grimm.
But Boehner is known for having little tolerance for scandal-plagued House members. When asked about Grimm’s legal troubles in April, he said, “I think all members should be held to the highest ethical standards.” He also supported Grimm’s decision at the time to temporarily step down from the House Financial Services Committee.
Some Grimm supporters had hoped Grimm would fight on. Michael R. Long, the chairman of the Conservative Party in New York, urged Grimm to resist calls to resign, and praised his work on behalf of constituents affected by Hurricane Sandy, which severely damaged parts of Staten Island in 2012.
“He should not resign unless it is necessary,” Long said in an interview last week. “He’s doing a very good job and he’s certainly not the first congressman who was involved in tax evasion.”
Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.