Beware making jokes about COVID-19.
Tom Malinowski seemingly forgot about that Thursday afternoon during an online “Congress in your kitchen” session with constituents.
Answering questions about further action the House can take regarding the pandemic, Malinowski, a freshman Democrat from CD-7, said Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky, remains an obstacle.
Listeners got the point; additional pandemic-related legislation only can happen if the GOP Senate concurs with the Democratic-House.
No one can dispute that.
But then Malinowski threw in a joke.
He pointed out that Lysol, a coveted disinfectant these days, is manufactured in his district. That would be at a plant in Somerset County operated by parent company Reckitt & Benckiser. Armed with that information, the congressman told a caller: “I’ve thought about using that with like Mitch McConnell, like, hey, you know, we’re gonna hold up the Lysol to Kentucky until you pass our election security bill.”
Now, the congressman was chuckling when he said it. And he quickly called it a “fantasy,” noting that, “It’s not going to work that way.”
Nothing a congressman says is a secret and Malinowski’s joke swiftly made it to GOP circles in Washington and Kentucky. The National Republican Congressional Committee weighed in Thursday night.
“People are dying, but that’s not stopping Tom Malinowski from making sick jokes about withholdoing coronavirus-killing products for political gain,” said spokesman Michael McAdams, adding that the
comments were “absolutely disgusting.”
He said more than 1,500 Kentucky residents have the virus and 75 have died.
Malinowski is being challenged this fall by Republican Thomas H. Kean Jr.
And earlier today, the Kentucky Republican Party chimed in, saying that the congressman’s “threats” need to be denounced – by leading Democrats in Kentucky.
The Malinowski camp contends the congressman was joking and that everyone who heard what he said knew he was joking. O.K. But you have to think Malinowski will be a bit less glib about the pandemic going forward.