Allison Leigh Cowan and William Rashbaum of the NY Times has questioned the timing of a House Ethics Committee filing by the office of Congressman Michael Grimm, amended to include a trip to the Republic of Cyprus funded by Panayiotis “Peter” Papanicolaou, the chairman of the Cyprus Federation of America (CFA) that was charged with bribery by federal attorneys in June.
Grimm took the trip twelve months ago, in August 2011, with Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis as the second stop in a fact-finding trip that took them first to the State of Israel. The privately-funded Cypriot visit was pre-cleared by Grimm with the House Ethics Committee, and was “timely” reported to the House Clerk via post-travel disclosure form (as reported by Colin Campbell/Politicker).
However, the Cyprus trip was not included in a financial disclosure submitted this past May. According to Grimm’s office, the House Ethics Committee notified them of the omission on June 1, 2012, and Grimm’s office filed an amended disclosure on June 6. And the NY Times notes that Papanicolaou, who paid for the trip, was arrested on June 5, just before Grimm submitted the amended disclosure.
The NY Times says “Grimm’s office… made little effort to publicize the trip,” and was “largely silent” in Cyprus compared to his constant Twitter updates while in Israel.
In commenting on the “secrecy” of Grimm’s trip, though, the Times failed to consider the target audiences of the Israeli and Cypriot trips. With the State of Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors and its occupation of the Palestinian West Bank having a greater share of the American consciousness, it makes sense to use a broadcast medium like Twitter to communicate with supporters.
With the decades-long civil strife coming to an end in 1974 with the attempted coup by Greek Cypriot militias and the subsequent invasion and occupation of the northern part of the island by the Turkish army, Grimm’s support of the Greek Cypriot cause can be delivered more effectively through Greek-Cypriot-American associations, like the CFA, and through the U.S. Hellenic press, such as this September 2011 article on GreekNewsOnline.com that included a statement from Congressman Grimm.
The NY Times has written several articles about Grimm’s fundraising practices. While the FBI is investigating corruption claims made against Grimm directly, more recent articles have tried to cast guilt on Grimm by his association with individuals accused of corruption such as Papanicolaou.
Grimm and Malliotakis made the trip with Papanicolaou to show support for the Greek Cypriot government and oppose the Turkish occupation of North Cyprus, even though Turkish Cypriots voted in favor (65-35) of a UN-negotiated reunification referendum in 2004 that was overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek Cypriot population, 76-24.