The Stain of Kean

Last year’s campaign in CD-7 was a bruising rematch between then-Democratic incumbent Tom Malinowski and Republican Thomas H. Kean Jr.

One of Kean’s principal campaign themes was that Malinowski was at best careless and at worst, a bit shady, in not promptly reporting stock trades he made in line with House ethics requirements.

We know how this turned out. Kean won, giving the Republicans an important pick-up as they took control – just barely – of the House.

Now, Democrats are the ones laughing at the news this week that Kean himself has acknowledged not reporting stock trades in a timely manner.

There are differences here to be sure.

After all, these can be complicated things.

Partisan politics, however, tends to gloss over, or even ignore, distinctions that get in the way of the narrative.

Sue Altman, one of three Democrats interested in challenging Kean next year, quickly fired off what used to be called a “tweet.” Here it is:

“Oh, this is rich.

After making his entire 2022 campaign about stock filings, KeanForCongress now admits he omitted trades from his disclosures.

His excuse? “Blame my Trust Fund.”

As for Kean, here is his statement:

“Upon taking office, I hired professionals to make certain that any and all transactions that I have control or interest in are reported accurately and quickly.

“However, this week, the attorney charged with overseeing my Personal Transaction Reporting for the House shared with me that transactions from a family trust account, which I have no control over, were shared with him in an untimely fashion despite regular check-ins and confirmation of accurate reporting.

“The attorney immediately took all appropriate steps to get that information up to date and all reporting is now in good standing.

“I am thankful to my attorney for swiftly addressing these issues, however I am deeply disappointed in the team tasked with managing that account for failing to meet the high standards I set and am taking necessary steps to ensure this error is not repeated.”

Kean’s office also made public a letter to the congressman from his attorney, Stephen Roberts, explaining the problem. Here is a key part of the missive:

“On September 14, 2023, I was alerted by one of the financial professionals responsible for the management of certain accounts that those third parties made transactions dating back to April 3, 2023, that I understand were not previously reported to you, your staff, or myself.

“Importantly, I was routinely informed on a regular basis by these same professionals that there were no reportable transactions. Upon learning of these omissions, I conducted a full review of each of your reportable accounts. On September 18, 2023, I prepared a periodic transaction report disclosing six unreported transactions from one account, the Kean Family Partnership of which you are a (one-third) partner, for your review and submission.

“After a further review, I can confirm that all other reportable transactions have been properly disclosed and at this point there are no further corrections to be filed.”

The aforementioned family partnership is controlled by the congressman’s father, the former governor of the same name.

If one drills down a bit here objectively, Kean’s transgression is not as serious as Malinowski’s.

Kean had no direct control over the fund and reported the problem quickly.

Malinowski at the time attributed the problem to those handling his accounts, but there was no trust fund involved. Also, Malinowski’s stock problem was initially reported by the media, not himself.

As mentioned previously, however, distinctions are not usually made when it comes to politics.

The 2024 election is only 14 months away.

We don’t know who the Democratic candidate is going to be, but you can be certain that whoever it is will make Kean’s stock mix-up an issue.

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