TIME Congress

U.S. Struggles in Building a Bridge to Somewhere

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson walks to a hearing room to answer questions before a closed meeting of the Senate Homeland Security Committee in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2014.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson walks to a hearing room to answer questions before a closed meeting of the Senate Homeland Security Committee in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2014. Cliff Owen—AP

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson will travel to Detroit on Friday to discuss a bridge to Canada that is expected to increase trade with the U.S. But infrastructure spending is a tough sell in a Tea-party influenced Congress

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson is expected to travel to Detroit on Friday, where he’ll spend the morning meeting with local groups about a bridge to Canada. An as-of-yet unbuilt bridge to Canada.

The bridge, which would augment an 85-year-old private bridge already in existence, was proposed years ago. It is expected to expand trade between the two nations. Already one-third of all goods passing between the U.S. and Canada go over the existing bridge. A second bridge is expected to boost that number and ease congestion. The Obama Administration issued the construction permit in 2013 and Canada has already said it will front most of the $1-billion price tag, with Michigan paying Canada back its share after the bridge—and tollbooth—are already opened.

So what’s the hang up? The $250-million tollbooth and customs plaza.

In an era after the Bridge to Nowhere made famous by Sarah Palin, spending on infrastructure is not the easiest legislation to get through the Tea Party-influenced Congress—even though this bridge clearly goes somewhere, and has the support of Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. Highlighting just how unenthusiastic this Congress is about infrastructure spending, there’s no deal in sight for how to fill an $8 billion to $12 billion hole in transportation funding that will run dry by the end of August.

The proposed bridge falls under the Department of Homeland Security’s budget since it would be a border connection. Johnson has discretion, to some degree, over his budget and could allocate some of the money without Congress. Meanwhile, Rep. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, has introduced legislation, as part of the 2015 appropriations process, to get the tollbooth built. “I just keep trying to build support,” Peters, who has four co-sponsors thus far, though no Republicans yet, told TIME. “I’m working to have it taken up and get a hearing as quickly as possible. And with Secretary Johnson’s visit, it’s important to lay the groundwork with the Department of Homeland Security. I appreciate how important it is, not just for the Midwest but the country, in terms of our trade with Canada.”

Canada, for its part, has been aggressively pushing the bridge. And between the stalled bridge and the ever-delayed Keystone XL Pipeline, Canadians are starting to wonder if relations with the U.S. are imperiled. “The government of Canada is concerned about the vulnerability of that trade and the jobs it sustains in both our countries,” Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt told a NAFTAnext summit in Chicago in late April.

Raitt warned Canadians against reading too much into the stalling of two of Canada’s top priorities with the U.S. After all, she noted, the pipeline has been stalled by Obama’s Democratic Administration, while the bridge funding has been blocked by the Republican House. “The United States tends not to link things,” she said. “And the Canadians are quick to think about linking things.”

Still, Raitt hasn’t ruled out Canada eventually paying for the U.S. customs booth if the U.S. continues to drag its feet. “We are committed to paying its fair share and we expect, as well too, that the United States pay and be responsible for its share,” she said in Ottawa last month. “But we will continue to talk with our partners in the U.S. and we will continue to work on this bridge.”

Because when America isn’t building bridges to nowhere, or somewhere, it’s burning them.

TIME India

Mixed Feelings on Polling Day for the Indian Elections in Modi’s Home State

Narendra Modi
India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime-ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, displays the victory symbol to supporters after casting his vote in Ahmedabad, India, on April 30, 2014 Ajit Solanki—AP

Supporters of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat state, are confident of victory. Even those fiercely opposed to him remain disillusioned with the incumbent Congress Party and crave change

When will politicians learn to beware of the selfie? Like others before him, Narendra Modi’s dalliance with the social-media favorite seemingly backfired on Wednesday, polling day in his home state of Gujarat. After the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime-ministerial candidate emerged from casting his vote in Ahmedabad, photographers clicked as Modi took a selfie with his inked finger and the BJP symbol, the lotus. But displaying a party symbol in an active polling area is an election no-no — as was, apparently, Modi’s address to reporters that followed. India’s Election Commission quickly requested that Gujarat open an investigation into its chief minister for violating election code of conduct for attempting to influence voters on voting day.

Still, Modi supporters in Ahmedabad were confident that they would soon see their candidate in the Prime Minister’s seat. In the national elections under way in India, voters across Gujarat went to the polls on April 30 to vote in the state’s next group of 26 lawmakers in Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament. Modi is standing for one of the seats in the city of Vadodara, in addition to a seat in the holy city of Varanasi, where voting takes place in the coming weeks. “Modi is the king of Gujarat,” says Sachin Patel, a 26-year-old BJP volunteer at the Nishan School polling station. “After this election, I hope he’ll be the king of India. We need him.”

Not everyone in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s biggest city, is so sure. Before elections, several opinion polls showed growing support for Modi and the BJP across the country, with many voters disenchanted with the past decade of a Congress-led government that has presided over multiple scandals and a weakened economy. Modi promises to change all that, bringing his model of Gujarat governance to the national stage, from streamlining bureaucracy to pulling in investment to improving the performance of welfare programs for the poor.

But despite the strong anti-incumbency mood, Modi remains a divisive figure for many. He was chief minister of Gujarat when bloody religious riots broke out in the state in 2002, in which more than 1,000 people, the majority of whom were Muslims, were killed. Many in Ahmedabad’s Muslim neighborhoods continue to hold Modi’s administration accountable for what happened to their community, though he has always strongly denied any involvement, and Indian courts have cleared him of any wrongdoing.

The BJP has downplayed that history — and their candidate’s Hindu-nationalist roots — in its campaign. But the question of secularism remains a hot-button election issue, with recent anti-Muslim comments by some of Modi’s associates again stirring up concerns across the country. In Ahmedabad, some say those concerns are valid, and believe the BJP-led government has perpetuated an anti-Muslim climate since the riots. “They create a sense of insecurity in the [Hindu] majority,” says Waqar Qazi, who lives in Juhapura, a Muslim area of the city. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a new political party whose leader, Arvind Kejriwal, is running against Modi in Varanasi, has also been campaigning as an alternative in Gujarat in the run-up to the polls. But for most Muslim voters, Qazi says, the choice is about what party has the best chance of preventing the BJP from coming to power in New Delhi. “Congress has failed to be a strong opposition,” Qazi says. “But it’s still the best choice.”

The Modi government says Muslims in Gujarat have prospered along with the rest of the state. The chief minister’s supporters agree. “Even Muslim people say they are safer in Gujarat today than they would be in other parts of India,” says Amar Dave, a retiree who voted at the same polling station as Modi. In Saheb Nagar, a small colony built for Muslim families whose homes were destroyed in the riots, residents say they do enjoy a bubble of security within the confines of their community. But they also feel left out of the new prosperity that other Gujaratis around them seem to be enjoying.

Here, Modi’s high-octane road show, selfies and all, feels like it’s happening in a different city, and not just a few kilometers away. For the residents of the Saheb Nagar colony, the vote is less about who can defeat the BJP and more about who can fix the local drainage system and get rid of the large, deep pool of raw sewage water at the entrance to their community. “Congress hasn’t done anything for us for the last 12 years either,” says Nasim Banu, a 40-year-old mother of four whose family was displaced in the 2002 riots. She throws an arm toward the fetid pool of water. For years she has voted for Congress in principle, as an alternative to the BJP. But today she cast her vote for AAP, the only group she thinks has a chance of bringing real change. “We trusted Congress and they disappointed us. Now we’ll try trusting AAP.”

TIME

Reid: NFL Should Handle Redskins Owner Like NBA Handled Sterling

Harry Reid NFL
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid talks to reporters as Congress returns from a two week recess, at the Capitol in Washington on April 29, 2014. AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants the NFL to take a hard line on the Redskins, a name many consider offensive

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thinks the NFL should “take an assist from the NBA” when it comes to Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his team name.

Reid, speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday a day after the NBA banned Los Angles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for his racist rant, said the NFL should take a similar approach toward Snyder, who has long resisted calls to change a team name considered offensive by many Native Americans.

“Since Snyder fails to show any leadership, the National Football League should take an assist from the NBA and pick up the slack,” said Reid, a Nevada Democrat who touted his state as home to 22 tribal organizations. “How long will the NFL continue to do nothing, zero, as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?

“I believe [NFL Commissioner] Roger Goodell is a good man but it’s time for this good man to act,” Reid added. “For far too long the NFL has been sitting on its hands doing nothing while an entire population of Americans has been denigrated. … Remove this hateful term from your league’s vocabulary and rid the league of racism and bigotry.”

Snyder has said the name “continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.”

TIME Congress

Minimum Wage Hike Falls Short in Senate

Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., talks to reporters as Congress returns from a two week recess, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. A long-shot Senate Democratic effort to raise the federal minimum wage seems doomed without needed votes to overcome a procedural blockade by most Republican senators, who say the measure would be too costly for employers. (AP Photo) AP

Senate Republicans stopped a bill that would have hiked the federal minimum wage, drawing preemptive ire from Harry Reid, who plans to use the issue as a cudgel in the midterm elections

Senate Republicans blocked legislation to raise the federal minimum on Wednesday, an expected outcome that Democrats plan to use as political ammunition in the midterm elections this year.

The measure, which would gradually hike the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, received 54 votes, six shy of what was needed to advance the bill to a final vote. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted no as a procedural move allowing him to bring it up for a vote again later.

“Millions of American workers will be watching how United States senators vote today,” Reid said a statement before the vote. “They’ll be observing to see if we ensure all full-time workers in this country receive livable wages.

“To them, it’s a matter of survival,” Reid added.

Democrats have been hammering Republican for months over their refusal to support a minimum wage hike, and it’s been a top priority for President Barack Obama. Republicans say a hike will hurt businesses and cost jobs, and that the focus should be on legislation to create jobs. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office tweeted that Democrats should “drop the tired ideological approach that’s failed so miserably the last five and a half years.”

The White House and Senate Democrats are working together on the so-called Raise the Wage strategy, with closely coordinated schedules and social media activities. The President is expected to deliver remarks on the topic Wednesday afternoon, and included a call to raise the minimum wage during his State of the Union address earlier this year.

There is widespread public support for raising the minimum wage to $10.10: A Pew poll released in January showed that 71% of independents supported the measure, as well as 53% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats. An early March Washington Post/ABC poll suggested the issue could help Democrats get voters to the polls in a midterm election year that has the party worried about sluggish turnout. Half of all Americans are more likely to back a candidate who supports raising the minimum wage, according to that poll, with only 19 percent saying they would be less likely to vote for such a candidate.

But polling experts haven’t seen much of a connection between the Raise the Wage effort and Democrats’ political prospects. On Monday, the Post reported a new poll with Obama’s approval rating at 41%, the lowest of his presidency, and congressional numbers indicating that 2014 could be on par with the 2010 Republican landslide. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll on Wednesday was slightly better for Obama, showing a 44-41 percent approval-disapproval rate.

“Look at Obama’s numbers, the GOP and Democratic numbers…” said Stuart Rothenberg of the eponymous political report. “None of those suggest considerable movement toward Democrats, do they? Of course not.”

Asked if she had seen the Democrats’ push to raise the minimum wage affect the polls in any Senate race this year, Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report, said she had not. “If it is effective, I don’t think we will see it until the fall,” Duffy said. Pointing to a new anti-minimum wage hike ad campaign that focuses on the Capitol Hill newspapers and D.C. television market, Duffy said: “There is a reason this ad is only airing in DC.”

“Voters just aren’t paying attention yet,” she added.

TIME Congress

Indicted Congressman ‘Absolutely Not’ Resigning

Congressman Michael Grimm
U.S. Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY) talks to reporters outside his office on Capitol Hill in Washington April 29, 2014. Jonathan Ernst—Reuters

Michael Grimm said he's not stepping down as he faces federal charges for a range of crimes, even if Republican leader John Boehner asks him to

New York Republican Rep. Michael Grimm said Tuesday that he will “absolutely not” resign if asked to do so by House Speaker John Boehner in the wake of his indictment on federal fraud and other charges.

“I am discussing things with leadership, but the main point is I’m back to work,” Grimm told reporters, adding that his top priority includes the proper allocation of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding. Grimm said he resigned from his spot on the House Financial Services Committee on Monday because he “didn’t want any of this”—eyeing the crew of cameras and journalists outside his fifth floor Capitol Hill office—”to distract from what the committee has to do.”

Grimm, a 44 year-old former Marine and FBI agent, turned himself in to the FBI on Monday morning as prosecutors released a 20-count indictment alleging he committed a range of crimes, including wire and mail fraud, perjury, obstruction, hiring undocumented immigrants, and filing false tax returns. He has denied all wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

“My colleagues have been great, they’ve been very supportive, and I think that’s going to continue,” Grimm said.

“Listen, at the end of the day, I’m a Marine, I don’t relent, I don’t give up and I’ve never abandoned my post before and I’m not going to do it now,” he added.

Boehner said Grimm “made the right decision” in stepping down from his committee post. When asked by CNN if he would support Grimm in his upcoming reelection campaign, Boehner responded: “I think all members should be held to the highest ethical standards.”

TIME Congress

The House GOP Immigration Walk-Back

House Speaker John Boehner doesn't seem to be pushing his members to pass an immigration reform bill, despite earlier signals to the contrary

House Republican leaders have repeatedly let a few rays of hope shine on the prospect of passing an immigration reform bill this year, only to quickly close the door and draw the blinds. They did it again Tuesday.

Last week in his home district, House Speaker John Boehner chided members of his conference for their resistance to passing a reform bill. “Here’s the attitude: ‘Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this,’” he said and squirmed to laughter while speaking at a local rotary club. “’Ohhhh. This is too hard.’”

The comments, after leaders unveiled a set of immigration reform principles in January and Boehner reportedly told donors at a Las Vegas fundraiser last month that he was “hell-bent” on passing a bill this year, seemed to indicate that he was pressing his Republican to finally move on the issue. The Senate passed a comprehensive package last summer.

But returning to Capitol Hill on Monday after a two-week recess, Boehner changed his tune in a meting with his conference. “That was the first thing that he addressed,” Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said. “He probably went a little too far. He was really more kidding around than anything.”

Fleming said that Boehner did not mention passing an immigration bill this year, and explicitly stated the House would not go to a conference committee to reconcile differences with the Senate’s bill, which provides a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. Two House Republicans from Illinois, Reps. Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger, said last week that they support some sort of legal status for undocumented immigrants.

“There was no mocking, you all know me,” said Boehner during a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters near the Capitol on Tuesday. “You tease the ones you love.”

Repeating a line that Republicans have used for months, Boehner said his party can’t trust President Barack Obama as a partner on immigration reform because of how the Administration has implemented health care reform law. Asked if there’s a bloc of intractable members in his conference, Boehner responded: “I also make clear that the 38 changes that the President has made to Obamacare, the 38 delays in Obamacare are some of the root of the problem that we’re dealing with.”

“I think our conference frankly wants to see the rule of law enforced, and that’s really been at the heart of these other issues that we’re trying to resolve,” said Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, who chairs a group of the conference’s most conservative members. Scalise added that Republicans have been “fairly divided” on the issue.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), one of the most outspoken Republicans in favor of immigration reform, said that if the conference doesn’t put something forward this year, Obama will take it upon himself through forms of executive action.

“I think if we don’t fix the situation, I think the President will probably act unilaterally,” he said. “And when that happens, there is no room for negotiations.

“It’s got to be this year,” he added. “If it doesn’t happen this year, I don’t think it happens for I think a few years.”

TIME Lobbying

Comcast Has About 76 Lobbyists Working Washington On The Time Warner Cable Merger. This is Why.

The company has registered at least 76 lobbyists across 24 firms to work on its impending $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable, making for a special ops squad with high-priced relationships to the most powerful members of Congress

How many lobbyists does it take to make a controversial cable merger happen in Washington these days?

Apparently, quite a few. Comcast has registered about 76 lobbyists, spread across 24 firms, to work on its pending $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable, according to first quarter 2014 filings with the Senate Office of Public Records.

While some have called it an “army,” Comcast’s lobbying effort is more of a tactical special operations unit. In most cases, lobbyists and firms appear to have been assigned targeted politicians and officials to woo on the merger. In many cases, the lobbyists themselves are former government colleagues of the people they are able to target. And given the sky-high stakes—uniting the top two cable and two of the top three largest internet broadband providers—the company appears to have everyone who matters in Congress covered.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of the complexity of the deals because any number of those lobbying firms are very sophisticated,” says Charles Fried, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s Solicitor General and later co-chaired a task force on lobbying as a Harvard Law School professor, on the number of firms dedicated to the merger. “What it’s about is that many of the lobbying firms have principals or associates who are closely connected to a number—maybe just one—key legislators or bureaucrats or regulators.”

The Comcast team brings together former staffers to some of the most powerful members of Congress together, like Waldo McMillan, a former counsel in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office, and Malloy McDaniel, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s former policy advisor and whip liaison. It includes lobbyists with deep ties to the committees that will evaluate the deal, like Christopher Putala, a former senior staff member of Senate Judiciary Committee. Comcast has also hired lobbyists that are able to target key constituencies that could have a role in the merger. Juan Otero, Comcast’s senior director and policy counsel in its lobbying division and former Committee Director for the National Governors Association, sits on the board of no less than four Hispanic groups, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

A Comcast spokesperson says the high number of firms it employs is due to the complexity of its wide-ranging business. “Comcast and NBCUniversal operate in 39 states, have over 130,000 employees, and function in heavily regulated media and technology businesses,” the spokesperson told TIME in a statement. “It is important for our customers, our employees, and our shareholders that we work with policymakers on the multiplicity of issues that affect our business.”

“With our proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, we have been reaching out to share how the transaction will allow us to continue driving innovation and responding to an intensely competitive environment,” the statement continued. “We will continue to share the public interest benefits of a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable with the stakeholders participating in the review process, just as we have done throughout prior acquisitions where we have brought new benefits to millions of Americans.”

The 76 lobbyists counted by TIME from public filings all work for firms that cite in their public disclosures work on the merger. But several firms work on multiple issues, and the disclosures do not always identify which lobbyists work on any particular issue. For the purposes of this story, all the lobbyists at firms working on the merger for Comcast were counted. One firm, Gray Global Advisors, was not included in this count because it did not specify work on the merger, even though one of its specialties is mergers with the Federal Communications Commission, which will determine if the deal is in the public’s interest. Two other firms, the Nickles Group and Bloom Strategic Counsel, disclosed that it worked on “issues related to mergers and competition” and “competition issues involving cable and internet service industries” but did not specifically mention Time Warner Cable. They were also left off the list.

Comcast has donated to 32 of the 39 members of the House Judiciary Committee, as well as 15 of the 18 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 50 of the 54 House Energy and Commerce Committee and 20 of 24 lawmakers on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, according to Politico. Last year, Comcast spent more than $18.8 million, making it the sixth-highest spender on federal lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (Disclosure: TIME magazine is owned by Time Warner, which spun off Time Warner Cable as an independent company in 2009.)

Here is a list of some of the notable lobbyists working for Comcast at lobbying shops that have registered to lobby on the merger:

Comcast Lobbyists With Ties to Key Congressional Committees

  • Krista Stark, Legislative Director for former House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner
  • Pete Filon, former House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell’s general counsel
  • Eric Kessler, Dingell’s chief of staff
  • Jeff Mortier, staff member under House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton
  • Karina Lynch, investigative counsel to Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Republican Chuck Grassley
  • Alec French, former Democratic Counsel on the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property
  • Kevin Joseph, former senior counsel to the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications
  • Paul Bock, chief of staff for former Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl, onetime chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee
  • Seth Bloom, general counsel of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee under Sen. Kohl
  • Manus Cooney, chief counsel and staff director on the Senate Judiciary Committee under former chairman Orrin Hatch, who still serves on the committee

Comcast Lobbyists With Ties to Minority Communities

  • Ingrid Duran, former president and CEO of Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
  • Catherine Pino, National Council of La Raza board member
  • Raul Tapia, President Carter’s Deputy Assistant for Hispanic Affairs
  • Earle Jones, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s corporate advisory board member
  • Jennifer Stewart, Congressional Black Caucus Institute board member

Comcast Lobbyists With Ties to Current Former Top Politicians

  • Daniel Meyer, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s chief of staff
  • David Hobbs, former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s chief of staff and President George W. Bush’s congressional liaison
  • Joe Trahern and Melissa Maxfield, staffers to former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle
  • Daniel Tate, President Clinton’s special assistant for legislative affairs
  • Carlyle Thorsen, former House Majority Leader Tom Delay’s general counsel
  • Susan Hirschmann, former House Majority Whip Tom Delay’s chief of staff
  • Sam Lancaster, staffer to former Speaker Dennis Hastert
  • Chris Israel, Deputy Chief of Staff to Commerce Secretaries Donald L. Evans and Carlos Gutierrez in George W. Bush Adminstration
  • Marc Lampkin, Speaker Boehner’s general counsel
  • Shimon A. Stein, senior policy advisor to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
  • Stephen Pinkos, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s policy director and general counsel
  • Michael Eisenberg, whip coordinator for House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer
TIME Congress

Congressman Caught Kissing Aide Won’t Seek Re-election

Republican Rep. Vance McAllister
Republican Rep. Vance McAllister, right, and his wife Kelly, check in at Monroe Regional Airport on their way to Washington, in Monroe, La., Monday, April 28, 2014. Emerald Mcintyre—The News-Star/AP

Louisiana Rep. Vance McAllister, a Republican who focused on family values during his election campaign, says he will serve out the rest of his term but won't run for Congress again after he was caught on tape smooching a female aide

A married Republican Congressman from Louisiana who was caught on video kissing a female aide will not seek re-election.

“Today, I am announcing that I will not seek re-election, but I will continue to be that voice and will uphold the office to which I was elected to serve for the remainder of my term,” Representative Vance McAllister said in a statement Tuesday.

The 40-year-old, who won a vacated seat in the House of Representatives in November, touted his Christian beliefs and family values during his election campaign. In the statement, he acknowledged that he has fallen short of those values.

“I’ve failed those I care most about and let down the people who elected me to represent them. I take full responsibility for this personal failure and I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done,” he added.

McAllister’s wife flew with him to Washington, D.C., this week, and has said she is “behind him 100%” and that their marriage remains intact. The object of his illicit affections, however, has resigned from her post on his staff.

TIME Congress

New York Congressman Turns Himself In Amid Fraud Charges

Representative Michael Grimm walks out of Brooklyn Federal Court after being indicted on 20 counts on April 28, 2014 in New York.
Representative Michael Grimm walks out of Brooklyn Federal Court after being indicted on 20 counts on April 28, 2014 in New York. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

Michael Grimm, who represents Staten Island, turned himself in as authorities unveiled federal charges against him—perjury, obstruction of justice, employment of undocumented immigrants and conspiracy to defraud the U.S.—related to his Manhattan restaurant

New York Republican Rep. Michael Grimm turned himself in to the FBI on Monday as authorities unveiled federal fraud charges against the Staten Island lawmaker.

Prosecutors say Grimm underreported income from his Upper East Side heath-food restaurant Healthalicious between 2007 and 2010. The indictment says Grimm faces 20 charges, including perjury, obstruction of justice, employment of undocumented immigrants and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

During a news conference after he was released on bail, Grimm said he will stay in office.

“I know I’m a moral man, a man of integrity and I also know that I have a lot more service and leadership to provide this country,” he said, USA Today reports. “I’m going to get back to work. I will not abandon my post or the wonderful people who entrusted me to represent them.”

Grimm, a former Marine and FBI agent, has drawn allegations of campaign violations since his first run in 2009 and 2010. The joint two-year investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI initially focused on his fundraising, but later shifted its focus to the restaurant, the New York Times reports.

Two fundraisers for Grimm’s campaign have separately been charged, including a Texas woman, Diana Durand,who allegedly illegally funneled $10,000 to his campaign, and an Israeli fundraiser, Ofer Biton, who pleaded guilty to an immigration fraud charge in August. Biton helped connect Grimm with Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, a celebrity Rabbi in New York whose followers donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Grimm’s campaign, according to USA Today.

William McGinley, Grimm’s lawyer, said Friday that the U.S. attorney’s office was planning to file charges and said in a statement at the time, “When the dust settles, he will be vindicated.”

Grimm became the focus of media attention in January after telling a local news reporter inquiring about the allegations after the State of the Union, “I’ll throw you off this f—g balcony.” He later apologized for the incident, saying, “I lost my cool, and it shouldn’t have happened.”

The indictment came after the filing deadline to run for Congress in New York, meaning that Grimm will remain on the ballot as the Republican nominee in a tough swing district even while facing the threat of conviction.

“I have an election to win,” Grimm said at Monday’s news conference.

TIME Congress

Rep. Michael Grimm Will Face Criminal Charges, Lawyer Says

Michael Grimm
In this May 9, 2012 file photo, Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Grimm is facing criminal charges from federal prosecutors, his lawyer said on Friday, April 25, 2014. Jacquelyn Martin—AP

The FBI has been investigating Congressman Michael Grimm's business dealings for at least two years, but the specific charges have not been made public. Grimm's lawyer called the investigation "a politically driven vendetta"

A lawyer for U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm said Friday his client is facing criminal charges from federal prosecutors amid a probe into campaign finance violations, the Associated Press reports.

“After more than two years of investigation plagued by malicious leaks, violations of grand jury secrecy, and strong-arm tactics, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has disclosed its intent to file criminal charges against Congressman Grimm,” attorney William McGinley said in the statement. “When the dust settles, he will be vindicated.”

McGinley called the investigation “a politically driven vendetta,” the New York Times reports.

Grimm, a former Marine and FBI agent who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, New York, has drawn allegations of campaign violations since his first run in 2009 and 2010. Grimm gained attention in January after telling a local news inquiring about the allegations after the State of the Union, “I’ll throw you off this f—g balcony.” He later apologized for the incident, saying, “I lost my cool, and it shouldn’t have happened.”

Last November, the House Ethics Committee announced that it was deferring its investigation into possible campaign finance violations to the Justice Department.

Both the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment on the expected charges.

[AP]

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