Bay Ridge

Cuomo move would have helped felon Michael Grimm vote for Donald Trump

But disgraced former Congressman says, 'No thanks'

April 19, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Former Rep. Michael Grimm at a recent Bay Ridge parade.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s move to allow paroled felons to vote would have helped ex-con and former congressman Michael Grimm elect President Donald Trump — but the disgraced former lawmaker who is fighting to get back his seat is saying “no thanks.”

Grimm, a former FBI agent who pleaded guilty and did seven months in a federal prison for tax evasion, would have been on parole during the 2016 election — the very type of felon that Cuomo’s move on Wednesday would enfranchise. But the Staten Islander said through a campaign spokesman that he “does not agree” with the executive order.

”He believes that the law as it is now, requiring felons to complete their probation first, is fair,” Joe Shikhman, a spokesman for Grimm’s bid to win back his Bay Ridge congressional seat, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Grimm regained his right to vote after he completed his parole in late 2016 for the tax evasion scam, which dated back to his brief stint as a Manhattan restaurateur in the 2000s. Grimm was facing up to 30 months in jail, but ended up serving a shorter sentence, thanks to the 2014 guilty plea that led to his resignation from Congress. Former Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan then won the Bay Ridge-Staten Island congressional seat in a special election.

Grimm is challenging incumbent Donovan for the seat. Donovan put out a statement after Cuomo’s executive order that suggested he wanted to have it both ways — slamming the Democratic governor as well as his GOP rival for his record and his support for Trump.

“We know that Michael Grimm couldn’t vote for President Trump after being released from prison on 20 counts of tax evasion, fraud, perjury, and more. But liberal Andrew Cuomo’s new executive order granting parolees voting rights could have come in handy for the convicted felon,” Donovan said in a statement. “Andrew Cuomo, who is trying to appeal to national Democrats so he can run against President Trump, did a power grab to help out ex-cons like Grimm.”

Donovan laced into Grimm for his bid to regain his seat — the only seat in the New York City delegation controlled by Republicans.

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“Dan Donovan believes that felons rightly lost their voting privileges, and he also believes they lost their privilege to serve in public office,” Donovan’s campaign said in a statement.

Grimm, who has the support of former Trump aide Steve Bannon and has said he would back the president, attacked the congressman and the media for its coverage of his crimes and his guilty plea, which, he continues to justify under the claim that everyone does it.

“The media’s hypocrisy on this has been nothing short of astounding,” Grimm said in a statement. “If a Democrat had been criminally prosecuted for something every other New York restaurant owner gets a civil fine for, journalists would be marching in the streets demanding justice.”

Grimm hoped to deflect attention away from his criminal record and onto Donovan’s alleged lack of support for President Trump’s agenda.

“It’s no shock that Desperate Dan has spent this whole race deflecting from his own incompetence and anti-Trump voting record by resorting to the Democrat smear tactics his allies are using against our President every day,” Grimm added in the statement.

The intra-GOP fight is ultimately a sideshow in the larger discussion about Cuomo’s executive order, which will allow 35,000 paroled felons to head to the polls this year, an estimated 4,779 in Brooklyn alone. Voting rights advocates say that the move will likely boost Democratic candidates, though Cuomo put a humanitarian spin on it.

It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have paid their debt and have re-entered society. This reform will reduce disenfranchisement and will help restore justice and fairness to our democratic process. Withholding or delaying voting rights diminishes our democracy,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The primary for the 11th District seat is on June 26. The Democrats have multiple candidates who will compete for the party line.

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