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GOP begins to kick Grimm to the curb, but remains in a tough spot

Republicans are beginning to turn off their faucet of financial support for embattled Rep. Michael Grimm.
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) speaks to members of the media outside his office April 29, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) speaks to members of the media outside his office April 29, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Republicans are beginning to turn off their faucet of financial support for embattled Rep. Michael Grimm.While House leadership hasn’t called on Grimm – who has been charged with fraud -- to step down, the committee that has a goal of electing GOPers to the House has confirmed with msnbc that the lawmaker will no longer be invited to its “Patriot Program” fundraiser on May 21.

When asked if Grimm will continue to be part of the program aimed at helping incumbents and more endangered politicians rake in cash and get re-elected, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ian Prior did not rule out the possibility he could be given the boot. “We will continue to assess Congressman Grimm’s re-election campaign while these legal proceedings are ongoing,” he said.

And according to the Wall Street Journal, Republicans are looking for a way to remove and replace Grimm on the ballot this fall.

The non-partisan Cook Political Report, which predicts 2014 House races, changed its rating in the district from “lean Republican” to “lean Democratic” after the indictment came down earlier this week. Grimm’s opponent, former New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia is well-funded and a close ally of progressive New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Grimm, a former Marine and ex-FBI agent, has maintained his innocence on the slew of charges, which include mail, wire and tax fraud during his time as an owner of New York City restaurant Healthalicious. Grimm, the only Republican congressman from New York City, has vowed to continue to seek re-election.

Grimm – and the GOP – are in a tough spot. Due to state laws, Grimm can’t be taken off the ballot because the deadline has passed, New York Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long told msnbc. The only (unlikely) option is if Republicans were to nominate him for a judgeship. In short, Grimm might be the party’s only option.

“No one would nominate him for judge with indictments hanging over his head. There are no options,” said Long. “I think it makes it very difficult for him to win re-election.” Long questioned the timing of the 20-count indictment, noting they came soon after the filing deadline. Investigators have been looking into Grimm’s fundraising for the past two years. He called it a “political maneuver by the Justice Department.”

Grimm’s spokesman and lawyer did not return requests for comment.

House Speaker John Boehner would not say if he thought Grimm should call it quits, only telling reporters that he “made the right decision” by stepping down from the House Financial Services Committee. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who met privately on Wednesday with Grimm, also did not ask for his resignation, insisting “We have a system that affords the congressman the presumption of innocence.”

Critics are quick to point to what they see as a double standard in the leadership’s reaction to GOP Rep. Vance McAllister, who was caught on camera in April kissing a married staffer. Cantor was quick to call on the Louisiana congressman (who oversees a safe Republican district) to resign. McCallister announced this week that he will serve the remainder of his term but won’t run for re-election in November.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Josh Schwerin told msnbc that “Republican leaders have made one thing clear; it is worse to kiss the wrong person in a safe Republican seat than to face a 20-count criminal indictment in a swing district.”  Republicans argue Grimm has the right to have his day in court.

The Democrats certainly have their fair share of lawmakers who have gotten into trouble and consequently received the cold shoulder from their party as well. Take 2011, when then-Rep. Anthony Weiner was embroiled in a sexting scandal. The Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee urged him to resign, which he eventually did.

And who could forget 2008 when Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on charges that he tried to sell President Obama’s former Senate seat. The DNC and all 50 Democratic senators called on him to resign. He was eventually impeached and removed from office by the Illinois Senate.