In a fire-breathing new TV ad that has already generated controversy, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is spending $250,000 inferring that a freshman Democratic congressman from New Jersey lobbied on behalf of sex offenders.
The ad alleges that Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) opposed a section of the 2006 crime bill creating a national sex offender registry while heading the Washington office of Human Rights Watch. Malinowski has vehemently denied any role and one of his colleagues corroborated that.
In testimony prepared for Congress, Human Rights Watch suggesting that while sex offender registration was warranted, there was “no legitimate community safety justification for the provisions in this legislation that require offenders to register for the rest of their lives, regardless of whether they have lived offense free for decades.”
The NRCC says the ad, which will run on cable television stations, is part of a $1.7 million ad budget to help Kean unseat Malinowski.
The ad uses nighttime footage of cities and suburban neighborhoods, with a narrator using an ominous voice and a grainy photo of Malinowski.
Script: “In every city, in every neighborhood, around every corner, sex offenders are living among us. But Tom Malinowski tried to make it easier for predators to hide in the shadows. Malinowski worked as the top lobbyist for a radical group that strongly opposed the national sex offender registry. Law enforcement praised the national sex offender registry that Tom Malinowski led an effort to stop. After two decades in Washington, Tom Malinowski has become dangerously radical.”
In a New Jersey Globe debate with his Republican opponent, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. on Sunday, Malinowski insisted that he had nothing to do with the crime bill when it came up fourteen years ago.
“I did not play any such role,” Malinowski said. “We submitted lobbying reports that listed everybody in the organization who lobbied on any issue.”
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jennifer Daskal, who worked at Human Right Watch in 2006, told the New Jersey Globe in August that she handled the crime bill and Malinowski did not attended any meetings on the legislation.
“He was not involved in this issue at all,” said Daskal, now a law professor at American University. “He was working on foreign policy issues.
According to Daskal, Malinowski did not participate on any internal discussion regarding a bill that is now known as the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
“It was a long time ago, but I have no recollection of him being involved,” Daskal told the Globe.
A lobbying report filed by Human Rights Watch in 2006 lists only Malinowski and Daskal.
Addressing the issue directly, Malinowski chastised Kean for using the issue in his bid to flip one of the state’s most competitive House seats.
“My opponent knows this is true, so what you are seeing here is the swamp,” the congressman stated. “This is why people are so turned off by politics in this country, especially young people. You’ve got campaigns out there that are willing to say absolutely anything, as outlandish as it may seem.”
In the debate, Malinowski said he doesn’t believe his constituents will believe this story.
“The idea that I would support sex offenders when I’ve spent my entire life fighting that kind of people as a human rights activist, as a diplomat around the world … It’s obviously preposterous,” he said. “They think if they keep repeating this garbage, there will be some people who eventually believe it, and we know who the model for that kind of politics is right now.”
Kean said during the debate that the issue is a legitimate one as voters consider who they want to represent them in New Jersey’s 7th district.
“He was the top lobbyist for the organization, and they advocate against protecting children, so either he was weak (or) he didn’t try to stop it,” Kean said. “The real question is how in the world can you work for an organization that advocated against protecting children.”
According to Kean, Malinowski needs to take responsibility for policies espoused by an organization he led before becoming Assistant U.S. Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
“Number one, why didn’t he stop it?” Kean asked. “The organization itself recommended to endanger children. Thank heavens the U.S. Senate didn’t listen to his recommendations.
Malinowski steadfastly defended Human Rights Watch.
“I worked for ten years, senator, for an organization that won a Nobel Peace Prize for protecting children from landmines,” he told Kean. “I worked for an organization that is famous around the world for standing up to people like Putin and Kim Jung Un and Fidel Castro, dictators around the world and for speaking truth to power in the United States of America.”
This story was updated at 11:17 AM.