Campaign 2010

Nov 19, 2012

Scandal-Plagued Grimm Is Congressman-elect Collins’ New Mentor

After only a few days in Washington, Congressman-elect Chris Collins (NY-27) is already making friends with all the wrong people. According to today’s Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Congressman-elect Collins has picked up a new congressional mentor: scandal-plagued Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-11), who is currently the subject of multiple federal investigations.


“It’s no surprise that Congressman-elect Chris Collins has chosen one of the most corrupt members of Congress as his mentor after only a few days in Washington,” said Josh Schwerin, Northeast Press Secretary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “After dealing with his own scandals for years in Erie County, there’s no one better to show Chris Collins how to do the same in Washington than a scandal-plagued congressman who is currently under investigation by the FBI.”




Grimm Is Collins’ “Mentor.” On November 16, 2012, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Michael Grimm has been Collins’ “leading mentor in making the transition” to Congress. [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 11/16/12]


Grimm Named One Of Congress’ Most Corrupt. In September 2011, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Grimm to their list of the most corrupt members of Congress. [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, accessed 9/22/11]


FBI Investigating Grimm’s Campaign Fundraising. “The FBI has questioned at least four people who worked on Congressman Michael Grimm’s 2010 campaign as part of its ongoing probe into allegations the Tea Party favorite took illegal election donations. […] The four, either campaign operatives and volunteers, were questioned in the past two weeks. In one case, the interview was conducted by a federal tag team that included an Assistant U.S. Attorney, sources told the Daily News. The FBI opened an inquiry into the Republican’s fund-raising after members of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s New York congregation complained he was strong-arming them for donations, as the New York Times reported in January.” [NY Daily News, 6/20/12]


Federal Grand Jury Also Investigating Grimm’s “Fundraising Shenanigans.” “A federal Brooklyn grand jury is probing alleged fundraising shenanigans in freshman Congressman Michael Grimm’s 2010 campaign.” [NY Daily News, 7/19/12]


Collins Awarded His Own Company $90K County Contract, Did Not Disclose Conflict Of Interest. In February 2009, it was reported that after three years of service to the county, Armor Electric Motor Repair’s contract would go to Collins’ company, Volland Electric Equipment. The $90,000 contract was to fix thousands of sewer system motors. According to the Buffalo News, Collins “bypassed” normal channels to get the contract approved. “The Collins team had bypassed the Legislature and quietly asked the state-appointed control financial board to accept Volland's low bid, with no mention of Collins' stake in the company,” the article read. [Buffalo News, 2/26/09]


Community Heavily Criticized Collins Over Conflict Of Interest. Following the revelation of the Volland Electric contract, several prominent community figures criticized Collins over the perceived conflict of interest:


Buffalo New Columnist: “Something About It Doesn’t Feel Quite Right.” In February 2009, Buffalo News columnist James Heaney criticized Collins for promoting Volland Electric’s contract bid by going around usual channels to get it approved, noting that “something about it doesn’t feel quite right.” He observed, “But if Collins wants to go down that road, it behooves him to be completely aboveboard. Instead, he comes off as being sneaky.” [Buffalo News, 2/26/09]


County Legislator: “There Is An Ethics Issue Here.” “I think there is an ethics issue here,” said Legislator Daniel M. Kozub, who served as chairman of the committee that handles sewer district matters. “And there is an issue that this should have come before the Legislature before it went to the control board.” [Buffalo News, 2/26/09]


UB Professor: Suspicion Of Collins’ Actions Is Unavoidable. “There really is no way for Collins to avoid the suspicion of a conflict,” said University of Buffalo professor Bill Baumer, who specializes in ethics. “He said he did not influence anything. On the other side of it, people in the purchasing department know they work for the county executive, and they don't want to do anything to make him angry.” [Buffalo News, 3/04/09]


Buffalo News Columnist: Collins Violated “Ethics 101.” “I am not sure what prompted the attack of common sense. But all he had to do was consult the Ethics 101 handbook,” wrote Buffalo News columnist Donn Esmonde. “There is a part under ‘Conflict of Interest’ about not having companies that you partly own bid for, much less get, county contracts.” [Buffalo News, 3/04/09]