Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) took to Twitter to slam his Republican opponent for launching a push poll trafficking in conspiracy theories in an attempt to connect the first-term congressman to child sex trafficking, but Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean’s campaign says they aren’t the source – and they still want the Democratic congressman to directly address the specifics of his lobbying activities.
“We’ve heard from constituents about a push poll conducted either by the Kean campaign or some GOP group asking about me allegedly belonging to a ‘child sex ring,’” Malinowski said. “That’s right — they are using a poll to push out the main QAnon conspiracy theory in our district.”
QAnon is described as a far-right conspiracy that claims top Democrats are engaged in a child sex trafficking ring.
But Kean’s campaign doesn’t have polls running.
“I don’t know anything about a push poll, but I do know that Tom Malinowski signed a government document saying he lobbied against a national sex offender registry,” Kean spokesman Harrison Neely said. “Voters in New Jersey deserve his explanation on that. It seems a lot like he’s trying to wrap a legitimate campaign issue into a conspiracy theory.”
In 2006, when Malinowski was Washington director for Human Rights Watch, the organization lobbied against a portion of a crime bill creating a national sex offender registry.
Malinowski’s name appears on lobbying report tied to the legislation, though Jennifer Daskal, who was then the advocacy director for the group’s U.S. Program, told the New Jersey Globe “he was not involved in this issue at all.”
Daskal, who would later become an Assistant U.S. Attorney General for National Security in the Obama administration and is now a law professor at American University, signed a statement urging Congress to reject the bill.
That explanation hasn’t satisfied Kean’s campaign, though Malinowski is willing to believe his challenger isn’t responsible for the push poll.
“We take the Kean campaign at its word that this poll did not come from them, but these dangerous conspiracy theories are spreading around the country, and somebody is trying to spread them in our district. Even the President has welcomed their support,” Malinowski communications director Benji Schwartz said. “All of us, including Tom Kean Jr., should repudiate them, and stand together against QAnon and the conspiracy theories they promote.”
This story was updated at 11:11 AM on August 22.