Tea Party US Congressman Michael Grimm Threatens to Throw Reporter off Balcony
A Republican US congressman from New York threatened to throw a television news reporter from the balcony of the Capitol rotunda in Washington, DC after the journalist tried to ask him about an ongoing corruption investigation.
NY1 political reporter Michael Scotto was interviewing Rep. Michael Grimm, a Tea Party Republican representing Staten Island, following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in the US Capitol when things took a turn for the ugly as the lawmaker took offense Scotto’s questions.
After calling the president’s speech “divisive,” Scotto began to ask Rep. Grimm about the ongoing federal investigation into his 2010 campaign fundraising. Grimm is accused of using straw donors to assist in funneling contributions from foreign backers into his campaign coffers. Ofer Biton, an Israeli national and former moneyman for Grimm, pleaded guilty to visa fraud last August. It is alleged that Biton helped raise illegally large donations for Grimm in exchange for help procuring a green card.
Grimm, a former undercover FBI agent, is also in hot water over his ties to business partner Bennett Orfaly due to the latter’s alleged ties to the Gambino organized crime family.
Grimm did not appreciate Scotto’s line of questioning. When the reporter tried to bring up the campaign finance investigation, the congressman abruptly cut him off.
“I’m not speaking to you off-topic, this is only about the president,” said Grimm as he walked off camera.
“So, Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finance,” Scotto said to the camera.
Grimm then approached Scotto and threatened him in a low voice.
“Let me be clear to you, you ever do that again, I’ll throw you off this fucking balcony,” the Tea Party lawmaker swore.
“Why? I just wanted to ask you…” began a stunned Scotto.
“If you ever do that to me again,” repeated Grimm.
Scotto: “Why? Why? It’s a valid question!”
Grimm: “No, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”
NY1 political director Bob Hardt released the following statement after the incident:
“It is extremely disturbing when anyone threatens one of our reporters– let alone a US congressman. The NY1 family is certainly alarmed and disappointed by the behavior of Representative Grimm and demands a full apology from him. This behavior is unacceptable.”
Rep. Grimm released a statement in which he offered no apology for his actions:
“I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests. The reporter knew I was in a hurry and was only there to comment on the State of the Union, but insisted on taking a disrespectful and cheap shot at the end of the interview, because I did not have time to speak off-topic. I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor. I doubt I am the first member of Congress to tell a reporter off, and I am sure I won’t be the last.”