BROOKLYN (CN) - If New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo does not announce a special election for the seat of disgraced U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm by Friday, a federal judge will do it for him.
U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein's Tuesday ultimatum comes a little more than a week after eight voters from Grimm's 11th Congressional District sued the governor, claiming that the 750,000 residents in Staten Island and the southern tip of Brooklyn were being disenfranchised and lacked representation after Grimm's January resignation.
Grimm, a former FBI agent and Marine, is awaiting sentencing after copping guilty to a federal tax-evasion charge for underreporting earnings and hiring illegal immigrants at a health food restaurant, Healthalicious, in Manhattan between 2007 to 2010.
Though Cuomo told the voters that it is up to him when to call for the special election, Weinstein highlighted some relevant figures for the governor.
Even if the governor were to call for a special election today, it must be held no more than 80 days later, and that would leave constituents 112 days without representation, he said.
"The right to representation in government is the central pillar of democracy in this country," Weinstein wrote. "Unjustified delay in filling a vacancy cannot be countenanced."
Cuomo's attorneys later conceded to the court that his office must call for a special election before Election Day, Nov. 20, to avoid running afoul of New York laws.
Grimm, 44, faced 20 counts of criminal tax fraud. He at first denied the charges, and clung to his seat during his re-election in December despite the allegations.
He initially promised to keep his office after copping to one of the charges as well.
Sentencing before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen is set for July 8.
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