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Plenty of members were completely in the dark — CQ Roll Call reporters broke the news to both Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas and Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat John Conyers Jr. of Michigan.
McCaul’s face dropped when he learned that Grimm had been charged with 20 counts of misconduct.
“Those are serious allegations,” McCaul said, adding that when he served on the House Ethics Committee “there were entire cases that we looked at where a conviction under federal law would be grounds for removal.” He added, of course, the “presumed innocent until proven guilty” caveat.
Members who have faced their own brushes with ethical probes had a light touch when asked about Grimm’s troubles.
New York Democrat, Charles B. Rangel, while never indicted on charges of abusing his congressional office for personal gain, was ultimately censured on the chamber floor at the end of 2010.
Should Grimm should resign? Rangel wouldn’t go there.
“That is such a personal and political decision that only he can answer,” he said, adding that he doesn’t “give much thought to what Republicans do one way or the other.”
Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla, had a different take, telling CQ Roll Call he is “interested to see what the leadership on the Republican side decides.”
Hastings was impeached by the House in 1988 for bribery and perjury and was later removed from office by the Senate. “Those are tough situations when people are confronted with that,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see what he decides.”
Many members declined to comment; others wanted to hold out on passing judgement until they’d seen all the facts.
The gesture of stepping down from the Financial Services Committee might go a long way, as it allows members to point out that the House is taking the matter seriously, and lets them defer final judgment until Grimm has had his day in court. And staying in Congress and seeking re-election actually helps Grimm, since he can use campaign contributions for a legal defense fund.
When CQ Roll Call told Conyers about the charges, and that Grimm said he plans to stick it out, the Michigan Democrat laughed.
“I think that might be a mistake,” he said.