Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) failed to report a privately financed trip he took to Cyprus last August and also didn’t list it as a gift on the first two iterations of his annual financial disclosure form, disclosing it only after the president of the sponsoring group was arrested on federal corruption charges.
The omissions were first reported by the New York Times late Wednesday. Grimm’s attorney told the Times his belated and amended filings were not related to the arrest.
The filings are related to two back-to-back international trips that Grimm took last summer to Israel and Cyprus, which were paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation and the Cyprus Federation of America, respectively, records maintained by the Clerk of the House show.
Though Grimm obtained prior approval from the House Ethics Committee for both excursions, he failed to file a post-travel disclosure form for the Cyprus trip for almost a year. The travel was also omitted on the first two versions of his financial disclosure form, which requires privately financed trips to be listed as gifts. The Israel trip was included as such.
When Grimm amended his financial disclosure a second time June 6, the Cyprus trip was included, records show.
Grimm's office said the annual financial disclosure was amended promptly after he was informed of the omission by the House Ethics Committee.
"As the NYT was informed, the trip to Cyprus was pre-approved by the House Ethics Committee and thus never hidden in any way; however, they chose to ignore the facts," Grimm said in a statement provided by his office.
Peter Papanicolaou, the president of the Cyprus Federation of America, was among a group arrested by federal and New York City law enforcement agents June 5 for their roles in a “widespread scheme to bribe high-ranking [affordable housing developer] officials in return for lucrative construction contracts,” according to an FBI press release.
The Cyprus Federation exists to “promote the rights and freedoms of the Cypriot people” and end Turkey’s occupation of the Mediterranean island, according to the organization’s website. On Grimm’s trip to Cyprus, he spent his first day there dining with Papanicolaou at his home before meeting with foreign officials, attending policy briefings and touring occupied areas, according to the trip itinerary approved by the House Ethics Committee.
News of the filing errors comes just weeks after Grimm confirmed that the independent Office of Congressional Ethics had ended a preliminary probe into his fundraising.
Media outlets including the New York Times, the New York Daily News and the Associated Press have reported that the FBI, however, is still investigating Grimm’s 2010 campaign for alleged illegal contributions.
Grimm is running for a second term in a competitive district made up of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn against Democratic opponent Mark Murphy, a former Congressional aide and the son of former Rep. John Murphy (D-N.Y.). The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already seized on Grimm’s perceived ethical lapses, making them the focus of an advertising campaign on the Staten Island Ferry. The DCCC added Murphy to its Red to Blue program of most competitive races last week. Roll Call currently rates the race as Likely Republican.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.