Sex gets your attention.
So it’s probably no surprise that it’s playing a role in the CD-7 campaign between Tom Malinowski and Republican challenger Thomas H. Kean Jr.
This has nothing to do with anything Malinowski has done in the 21 months he’s been in the House.
To grasp what’s happening, we must return to 2006 when Malinowski worked for Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental agency that advocates for human rights all over the world.
An ad for Kean by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) says that at that time, Malinowski lobbied on behalf of sex offenders. Specifically, he is accused of opposing the creation of a national registry for sex offenders.
This is an explosive charge. Few individuals are as publicly abhorred as those who prey on children.
But here are some of the problems with it.
Malinowski’s expertise is – and has been – in foreign affairs. This was purely a domestic issue. Some of his former colleagues have said the now-congressman had nothing to do with domestic issues.
There’s also a question about the substance of the allegation. Believe it or not, there are nuances when it comes to who should register as a sex offender. For example, should it include public urination, given the fact the offender displays his private parts to whomever can see them. It was those concerns that formed the basis of the Human Rights Watch lobbying effort.
It is understood that such distinctions are never part of political attack ads. That’s a given and both parties are culpable.
Still, accusing someone of backing sex predators without any real evidence is especially vile.
The Malinowski campaign says the charge has led to death threats.
There is an interesting sub-plot here. The protecting sexual predators allegation ties into the conspiracy theories of QAnon, a group firmly-planted in the lunatic wing of the far-right. The group believes that the world is run by Satanic forces who kidnap and sexually abuse children. As the saying goes, there truly are things you can’t make up.
By coincidence perhaps, Malinowski just held a virtual public meeting to condemn the group.
One national media fact-checker gave the NRCC ad “four Pinocchios.”
The Malinowski campaign, not surprisingly, says the ad “reveals nothing about Congressman Malinowski and everything about Kean’s character and his fitness for office.”
The campaign also released a letter from six local Republicans denouncing the ad.
“The accusation is false. What’s more, the ad plays into and amplifies a dangerous current of fear in our politics, which is turning Americans against one another and distracting us from the real challenges our country faces,” the letter says.
It is signed by Mayor Richard Wolfe of East Amwell, Mayor Rob Greenbaum of Mount Olive, Councilwoman Betty Anne Fort of Readington, Former Mayor William Muller of Peapack-Gladstone, Former Mayor Michelle Garay of Alexandria and Former Mayor Nick Corcodilos of Clinton Township.
We asked the Kean campaign for comment around 5 p.m. Thursday and there has been no response.