Embattled Rep. Michael Grimm reversed course and announced his resignation from the House of Representatives late Monday, a week after pleading guilty to felony tax evasion.
Grimm, R-N.Y., who vowed that he would remain in Congress after the plea, issued a statement saying that he would leave office effective Jan. 5, 2015. The new 114th Congress is sworn in the next day.
‘After much thought and prayer, I have made the very difficult decision to step down from Congress…,’ Grimm said in the statement released just before midnight. ‘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.’
Grimm, a former FBI agent, was accused in a 20-count indictment of concealing wages and revenue at a restaurant he co-owned. Federal prosecutors dropped 19 of the counts, but only after Grimm signed a statement admitting to the conduct underlying the other charges.
That required Grimm to acknowledge effectively keeping two sets of books while operating the Manhattan eatery to hide $900,000 in receipts.
In his resignation statement, Grimm said ‘the events which led to this day did not break my spirit, nor the will of the voters.’ But he added that ‘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 the next chapter in my life.’
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will call a special election to fill the vacancy created by Grimm’s exit.
Grimm’s resignation scratches one problem off House Speaker John Boehner’s list. House Democrats had been pressuring Boehner, R-Ohio, who pledged a zero tolerance policy on ethics misdeeds in the chamber, to pressure Grimm to quit. The New York Daily News reported that Boehner spoke with Grimm on Monday.
Boehner said on Tuesday that Grimm ‘made the honorable decision to step downn from his seat in Congress.’
‘I know it was made with the best interests of his constituents and the institution in mind, and I appreciate his years of service in the House,’ he added.
But Grimm’s departure comes just as Boehner has to deal with a new controversy: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., acknowledging Monday that he spoke at white supremacist convention in Louisiana in 2002 while he was a state legislator.