New York Rep. Michael Grimm on Tuesday afternoon in Brooklyn federal court pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion, admitting to hiding more than $1 million in wages and income.
The charge—just one of 20 tax-evasion charges Grimm was indicted on—doesn’t prohibit him from serving in Congress and so far he hasn't said whether he plans to step down. Grimm, who co-owned an Upper East Side eatery called Healthalicious, plead guilty to hiding income from the restaurant from the federal government. A judge will determine in June whether he will be sentenced to prison -- a maximum of three years is on the table.
GOP leadership isn’t commenting. "We won't have any announcements until the Speaker discusses the matter with Mr. Grimm,” a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said, despite the fact that Grimm told a reporter earlier that they'd already spoken on Tuesday.
Grimm resigned from the House Committee on Financial Services in April after turning himself in to the FBI on tax evasion charges to face indictment, but promised he’d return after he cleared his name from the “trumped-up charges.”
It’s likely that leadership would pressure Grimm to leave Congress, but the only way they could force him out is through a vote to expel, which would require two-thirds of House votes. Though the former FBI agent was once seen as a rising GOP star, Democrats would have a field day if a convicted felon remained in GOP ranks, casting votes on behalf of his district—while as a felon he’d be barred from voting for himself or anyone else ever again.
"Speaker Boehner has let this go on long enough. It's past time for Michael Grimm to go and it's John Boehner's responsibility to make it happen," the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Tuesday morning. "Speaker Boehner and Republican leaders' continued complicity in letting Michael Grimm stay in Congress despite his guilt of felony tax evasion is a disservice to the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn and a stain on the institution of the United States House of Representatives."
This isn't the first time Grimm has been in the spotlight for wrongdoing, and it potentially won't be the last. In addition to berating a reporter while cameras were still rolling (threatening to break him in half) at the beginning of 2014, the 44-year-old Republican still faces charges of mail, wire and health care fraud, as well as perjury and obstruction of an official proceeding related to a private business deal he made before he was elected. The House Ethics Committee—which had delayed their look into the Congressman pending the federal investigation—will likely renew their investigation, too.