NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former New York City congressman who made national headlines for threatening to break a reporter “in half” before serving time in prison for tax fraud is expected this weekend to announce he will try to recapture his seat.
Republican Michael Grimm will appear at a rally on Sunday in the city’s Staten Island borough, 16 months after he was released from prison having served an eight-month term.
A Facebook page promoting the event - titled “Rally in Support of Michael Grimm, Our Congressman,” did not specifically confirm he would be running for reelection, but it said Grimm “is ready to fight for us once again.”
On Twitter, Grimm posted a story from the Staten Island Advance newspaper reporting that he would announce a congressional campaign and wrote, “Exciting headline from @siadvance - see you all Sunday at 11:30!” Grimm’s representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.
His entry into the race sets up what will likely be a closely watched primary battle with Dan Donovan, the Republican and former Staten Island district attorney who was elected to Grimm’s seat after Grimm resigned and won reelection last November.
Donovan, New York City’s only Republican congressman, is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of targets for 2018. His spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Grimm, a 47-year-old Marine veteran once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, drew widespread denunciation in January 2014 when he was caught on camera saying he would throw a New York television reporter off the balcony inside the Capitol building in Washington.
“I’ll break you in half - like a boy,” Grimm warned the reporter, who had asked him about a federal probe into his campaign finances. He later apologized.
Three months later, he was indicted for tax fraud and other charges in connection with a health food restaurant he owned before turning to politics. He still managed to win reelection in November 2014.
Six weeks after Election Day, Grimm pleaded guilty to one count of tax fraud. After initially vowing to keep his seat, he resigned under pressure from Republican leadership.
The Facebook page on Sunday’s event, which was created by “Friends of Michael Grimm,” said Grimm was “driven from office in a politicized abuse of the justice system.”
Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Andrew Hay