By Paula Katinas
BAY RIDGE — Embattled U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm made his second appearance in the Bay Ridge portion of his bi-borough district in less than a week at an event that appeared choreographed to send a message to constituents that he is determined to move forward despite the controversy swirling around him.
On Monday, Grimm stood in John Paul Jones Park on Fourth Avenue and 101st Street, at the foot of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and happily accepted the endorsement of union leaders for his reelection campaign.
Grimm, 41, a Republican-Conservative, is running for a second term in office representing the 13th Congressional District. The district covers the entire borough of Staten Island and nearly the entire community of Bay Ridge, as well as parts of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend.
Grimm, who was once considered a rising star in national Republican politics, has been the target of speculation and negative news stories, including a scathing editorial in The New York Times, over his associations. The New York Times called on the House Ethics Committee and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Grimm.
The congressman himself is not under investigation, but a chief fundraiser from his 2010 campaign is the target of a probe for allegedly embezzling funds from a religious congregation whose members donated heavily to the campaign.
On Sunday, the New York Daily News printed a two-page report detailing how Grimm had urged a judge to give leniency to Thomas Kontogiannis, a developer who had been convicted of bribery charges. The leniency plea took place before Grimm, an ex-Marine and former FBI agent, ran for Congress.
Grimm was joined on Monday by members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council Number 9 along with Political Director Jack Kittle as he formally accepted their endorsement.
“I am honored to receive the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades endorsement today. I grew up in a union home where my father taught me the value of a hard day’s work. I have made a point to show the hard-working men and women of Staten Island and Brooklyn, through my voting record, that I support them and will continue to fight for them and to champion the issues of fair wages and high quality jobs in our community,” Grimm said.
“Congressman Grimm has proven to us since his election to the House of Representatives that he is willing and able to stand up for the members of this union. Time and again he has voted to protect the rights of workers,” Kittle said. “In these times of fierce partisanship, he is a breath of fresh air. He is someone who is able to put aside nonproductive ideology and stand up for what is right for workers and the residents of Staten Island and Brooklyn.”
IUPAT represents 140,000 painters, glaziers, wall coverers, flooring installers, convention and trade show decorators, glassworkers, sign and display workers, and drywall finishers. District Council Number 9 is a member of the New York State Building and Construction Trades AFL-CIO and is a member of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York City.
The endorsement press conference marked the second time in less than a week that Grimm made a public appearance in Bay Ridge. A few days earlier, he held a press conference on Fifth Avenue to call on the New York City Department of Transportation to install two-hour muni-meters in all of the commercial zones of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
Meanwhile, Mark Murphy, a Staten Island Democrat who announced his intention to run against Grimm, was scheduled to hold a Leap Year fundraiser for his campaign on Wednesday, Feb. 29.