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Grimm Has Fewer Resources at His Disposal in Re-Election Fight

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As Rep. Michael Grimm tries to win re-election while fighting a criminal indictment, he finds himself with fewer resources at his disposal. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.

Ever since he was indicted, Rep. Michael Grimm has claimed his supporters have his back.

"I didn't abandon them. They're not going to abandon me," he said on April 28.

From April to June, though, he wasn't raising money from them.

According to the Federal Election Commission, he raised just $44,000, about what he paid his lawyers during the same time period. It's just a fraction of the $420,000 he has in legal debt.

Grimm likely won't be allowed to use campaign cash to cover all of his legal bills, which is why he just set up a legal defense fund with the House of Representatives.

"Mr. Grimm is able to use any money brought into that fund for any legal expenses he has regarding his criminal prosecution," said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The fund is being run by Nancy Watkins of Tampa, Florida. She is known as a Republican fixer. When I called her, she declined to talk about Grimm, but she did say she has overseen other legal defense funds. In fact, she has served as treasurer to numerous Republican campaigns and political action committees. One campaign she worked with was Rep. Michele Bachmann's.

Even with Watkins at the helm, it's unclear if Grimm, who has been abandoned by the Republican Party, will be able to raise cash.

"I think he may find it quite difficult to raise money because again, a lot of the people who are willing to give money would be giving money because they want to curry favor with a member of Congress, and if Mr. Grimm's not going to be, there's not a lot of reason to give him the money.

Rep. Charles Rangel raised thousands from supporters for his legal defense fund, which helped pay legal bills associated with his ethics troubles. Rangel started the fund in late 2010 after he was safely re-elected.

Grimm's future is up in the air. Still, even with his poor fundraising, Grimm has $1 million left in his campaign account. His opponent, Domenic Recchia, also has about $1 million after raising nearly $140,000 over the last couple of months.

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