Rep. Michael Grimm seems to want to do right by the two teenagers who vandalized his campaign office on Staten Island, saying he is open to offering internships or volunteer opportunities to them to give a firsthand view of public work. For their part, the teenagers apparently threw rocks through his window just for the heck of it.
"I invite the teenagers to see firsthand the importance of public service and the political process by interning in my official office or volunteering in another capacity within our community," the New York Republican said in a statement, adding that he hoped the judge "will take leniency with these children . and use it as a teachable moment on the importance of serving our community instead of vandalizing it."
It's becoming evident, however, that the vandalism was not an act of aggression against a public official or against the community at large. One of the teenagers responsible for the incident has told authorities he and his friend didn't even realize it was a Congressman's office until after the rocks has been thrown.
"My friend said, 'Let's throw a rock.' He said it's nothing but an empty dealership because we didn't see that it was Michael Grimm's office, I took a big rock and threw it through the window. We went back and saw the banner that said it was Michael Grimm's campaign office," 16-year-old Staten Island resident Avery Gerena said, according to the official complaint and as first reported by the Staten Island Advance.
Gerena's name is a matter of public record because of his age; the identity of his cohort, an eighth-grader, has not yet been released.
It's been more than three days since Grimm first informed the public that his office had been vandalized, initially believing the broken windows were a cover-up for an overt "political assault" on his operation. The campaign computer's hard drive containing sensitive data, he asserted, had been tampered with.
Since that time, while the New York Police Department continues to examine the computer in question for signs that it was tampered with, Grimm has acknowledged the possibility that it might have been a volunteer who accidentally wiped the computer clean without admitting to it.
The New York Times first reported Monday night that sources within the NYPD were doubtful there had been an intrusion into the office and a hacking of the computer system. It wasn't until the first teenager admitted Tuesday afternoon to being behind the vandalism that Grimm, a former FBI agent, released a statement expressing his disappointment in the perpetrators but his relief that it was not a politically motivated attack.
"What is most troubling about this series of events," Grimm continued, "is the shameless media spin and speculation fueled by unscrupulous sources. This is no more than another blatant attempt by the liberal media to generate more bogus allegations against me and continue their ongoing smear campaign."
As the Grimm camp waits for the results of the computer testing, the freshman incumbent is battling for re-election to a seat he won as part of the Republican wave of 2010 that ousted Democrats from their majority in the House.
As for Grimm's allegation of a smear campaign, the FBI is investigating a former Grimm fundraiser for campaign finance irregularities. Earlier this year, the independent Office of Congressional Ethics ended a preliminary probe of Grimm's fundraising. National Democrats have seized on the probes to target Grimm's race.