Before he threatened to break a news reporter in half, before his campaign headquarters were broken into and a former business partner was linked to the mob, Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., was just a lawmaker from Staten Island and a former FBI agent and U.S. Marine.
Grimm's outburst following the State of the Union Tuesday has thrust him into the spotlight, and left beltway reporters scratching their heads as to what would possess a lawmaker to lash out so brazingly in front a video camera. But to those outside of Washington and New York, Grimm may not stand out.
He's a moderate Republican who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. Grimm has voted against the party line at times and has been an outspoken advocate against the conservative fringe of the GOP. Most recently, he sponsored a bill to extend flood insurance and restore military benefits to veterans.
Grimm won his seat in 2010 with the reputation that he was an enforcer, a guy who as an FBI agent wore wires and busted Wall Street. He picked up a mob-issued nickname in those days — "Mikey Suits."
So when Grimm told reporter Michael Scotto that he would throw him off the "f****g balcony," it wasn't coming from a guy who'd never been around the block. Grimm has since apologized personally to the reporter.
Yet, this isn't the first time Grimm has come under fire for his actions, either.
In January 2012, a New York Times report alleged that Grimm violated campaign finance laws and accepted thousands of dollars from Ofer Biton, an aide to a local rabbi. Biton has pleaded guilty to visa fraud charges since.
Grimm has repeatedly denied the allegations that his campaign violated any laws.
Another report in the New Yorker noted Grimm's record in law enforcement was tainted. According to that story, Grimm "misused authority," "waved a gun" and made "racially charged" comments at a nightclub in 1999. Although, again, Grimm said the events were mischaracterized.
Grimm has been tied in business with Texas felon Carlos Luquis, a former F.B.I. agent who is in prison for fraud and Bennett Orfaly, who owned a health food restaurant with Grimm in New York and has been linked to the Gambino mob dynasty.
Despite the controversy, Grimm's managed to comfortably win re-election. In 2012, Grimm earned points from constituents for his strong response in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. And in his second term Grimm had stayed under the media's radar. Aside from a broken window at his campaign headquarters in New York and the announcement that the House Ethics Committee was investigating his campaign.