Michael Grimm, Threatening to Throw a Reporter "Off This Fucking Balcony," Broke Some Ethics Rules

Categories: Michael Grimm

Screenshot via NY1
Grimm and Scotto share their magic moment.
Rep. Michael Grimm, the congressman who represents New York's 11th District, is having a terrible year, much of which he can blame squarely on Michael Grimm. He kicked 2014 off with a bang, threatening in January to throw NY1 reporter Michael Scotto off a balcony after Scotto had the temerity to ask about those alleged campaign finance violations for which Grimm is under investigation by the FBI.

In case you've forgotten that particular golden moment in Congressional good decision-making, Scotto tried to ask Grimm about the allegations after the State of the Union address. Grimm refused to discuss them. Scotto turned back to the camera and told the NY1 viewing public that Grimm had refused to discuss them. And then, with surprising agility, Grimm bounded back into the frame, put his face and body very close to Scotto, and announced: "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this fucking balcony." After a bit of discussion with the clearly shocked reporter, he added, "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."

- See also: Rep. Michael Grimm Could Face 257 Years in Prison For Tax Evasion, Perjury and Fraud

As it turns out, threatening to put reporters on the wrong sides of balconies, besides being a rather silly thing to do on television, is also against Congress's ethics rules. Yes! Congress has ethics rules, and sometimes, they even attempt to enforce them.

The Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics issued a one-page report yesterday, first reported by the New York Times, which concluded that Grimm's threats were probably not cool.

"If Representative Grimm threatened to do bodily harm or assaulted a reporter, then he may have violated the D.C. Code and House ethics rules," the board wrote in their recommendation. (The D.C. code are the laws that govern the District of Columbia. Much like the laws that govern every other place, threatening to assault someone in D.C. is a crime. )

The Board has recommended that the House Committee on Ethics, made up of ten of Grimm's fellow members of Congress, further review the "allegations" against Grimm, which are still being referred to as allegations even though they were taped and broadcast on television. The board took that vote in March, although it was just released to the public yesterday.

It seems unlikely that Grimm will face criminal charges over this incident -- for one, Scotto appeared on MSNBC the next day and said he wouldn't press charges. Even if Grimm is censured by the House for ethics violations, that really only amounts to being read to sternly.

In any case, Grimm has other, more pressing concerns in the legal arena. He's still facing many years in prison over charges of tax evasion, perjury and fraud during his running of the unfortunately-named Healthalicious restaurant on the Upper East Side.

The real question, though, is if Grimm will ever be charged in those alleged campaign finance violations. They are far from resolved: for example, Grimm's ex-girlfriend Diana Durand was facing her own criminal charges for violating campaign finance laws during her work on his campaign. The Daily News reported yesterday that she's talking with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and may soon enter a guilty plea. (To make the case just a little more odd, she's represented by two former FBI agents, Stuart Kaplan and Joseph Sconzo, who were once colleagues and friends of Grimm's when he worked for the FBI. Federal prosecutors were concerned that might be a conflict of interest, but after the hearing yesterday, she's being allowed to keep them as counsel.)

Finally, here, once again, for the joy of all and sundry, is the video of the "fucking balcony" incident:

The one-page report from the Office of Congressional Ethics is on the following page.

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