Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis had little to say about fellow Staten Island Republican Michael Grimm’s return to politics Sunday. Speaking just before marching in the Pulaski Day Parade, Malliotakis offered that “I’m focused on my own election which is five weeks away” when asked for any reaction or expression of support for either Grimm or incumbent Congressman Dan Donovan.
Grimm is a former congressman who resigned in 2014 after pleading guilty to federal tax fraud. He held a Staten Island rally Sunday to declare his intention to seek election to his former congressional seat. The current congressman, Dan Donovan, was elected in a 2015 special election. Malliotakis, a member of the New York State Assembly, had sought the Republican nomination in that election but party leaders selected Donovan. (Party nominees are selected by party leaders, not via a primary, in such special elections.) There is speculation in Staten Island political circles that Malliotakis may be interested in running for this congressional seat, should she not win her current mayoral race.
In late November I asked recently re-elected and indicted Rep. Michael Grimm how, in light of the House Republican leadership distancing themselves from Grimm amid his legal problems, he expected to be able to accomplish anything in the coming term. According to multiple news reports, Grimm is expected to plead guilty today to a single felony charge of tax evasion.
Rep. Michael Grimm today voiced a more optimistic view on immigration reform than many of his fellow House Republicans. He described the existing immigration system as “completely broken” and “unsustainable” and said that on the question of “deal[ing] with those that are here” there’s “more common ground than you think” in the House of Representatives. Grimm was dismissive of President Obama’s recently announced executive order, but expressed a belief that legislative action is possible.
We spoke with Grimm in Port Richmond, just after he handed out free turkeys to a group that likely included undocumented immigrants. The distribution was in conjunction with the Rev. Erick Salgado and was held at the site of Rev. Salgado’s church on Staten Island, which was destroyed by fire several months ago. I began by asking Grimm how a moment like this affects his thinking on immigration. He did not respond directly on that point, but gave a detailed response on the broader issue of immigration.