Bay Ridge

Recchia goes for the jugular

New campaign ad focuses on Grimm indictment

September 9, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The gloves are off and the race between U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm and challenger Domenic Recchia has turned into a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Recchia, a Democrat, has decided to get tough by releasing a new campaign ad that focuses on Republican Grimm’s legal troubles.

The television ad, called “20 Counts,” features everyday citizens of the 11th Congressional District (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island) reading the charges in the indictment aloud. Grimm, a two-term incumbent, was hit with a 20-count indictment in April on mail fraud, perjury, and other charges stemming from his ownership of a health food restaurant in Manhattan prior to his election to congress in 2010. Grimm allegedly hired undocumented immigrants, paid them in cash, and kept two separate sets of books for the business in an apparent effort to hide income from the Internal revenue Service.

Recchia’s ad also features these words on the screen, “We’d like to tell you all 20 counts in the massive federal indictment against Michael Grimm. But then again…we only have 30 seconds.”

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The scathing ad began airing on cable stations in Brooklyn and Staten Island on Monday. The Recchia campaign also put it up on YouTube.

“The people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn deserve better than a member of congress who has been indicted by a federal grand jury,” Recchia, a former councilman, said in a statement. “Working families need honest leadership, someone who doesn’t spend more time defending himself than he does his own constituents. As a member of congress, I will fight for our families to get them a seat at the table, I will always put the people of this district first, and most of all, I will honestly and faithfully serve the people of these two great boroughs, and be a representative they can all be proud of.”

Grimm’s trial is expected to begin Dec. 1.

Adding to Grimm’s legal problems, Diana Durand, a former fundraiser for his campaign, described in media reports as his ex-girlfriend, pleaded guilty on Sept. 2 to charges making an illegal contribution to his campaign. The New York Daily News reported that Durand faces up to one year in prison. She will be sentenced on Feb. 20.

In response to the “20 Counts” ad, Grimm’s campaign issued a statement blasting Recchia as being out of step with the voters of the district. Recchia, according to the Grimm campaign, is “desperately hoping that no one discovers that he’s now pretending to support the opposite of everything he voted for in the City Council, including increasing every middle class tax, raising tolls, and ending term limits.”

Grimm has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

It’s not clear what effect the ad will have on the heated campaign.

The race is one of the most closely watched contests in the country this political season.

Washington Post reporter Sean Sullivan, in a Sept. 2 analysis, named the Grimm-Recchia race as one of the five most surprising contests in the country, citing the fact that the challenger has not been able to put the incumbent away, despite the indictment hanging over Grimm.

In a recent fundraising email sent out to supporters, the Recchia campaign admitted that the contest “is still in a dead heat.”

The “20 Count” ad might be a sign of nervousness on the part of the Recchia campaign, according to Sullivan, who wrote that the ad could be a signal that “the congressman may not be the goner most have made him out to be.”

Sullivan wrote that while Recchia is still considered the favorite to win the race, “he’s not a sure bet just yet in the eyes of Washington Democrats.”

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