Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) has released a brutal new digital ads slamming Republican Francis Pallotta for his refusal to denounce the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government militia group that allegedly played an integral role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January 6, 2021.
The ads seek to paint Pallotta, a former investment banker from Mahwah, as “too extreme for New Jersey,” for “siding with Oath Keepers.”
Gottheimer uses footage from the events of the Capitol on January 6, as well as a clip from an October, 2020 New Jersey Globe debate between with Pallotta.
In that debate, Gottheimer asked Pallotta why he was “embracing extremist groups like the Oath Keepers…rather than denouncing them?” He asked if Pallotta would denounce the Oath Keepers.
“You know what? I think 1992 called, Josh, and they want their definition of racism back. My supporters are my supporters. They’re not racists. They’re not xenophobes. They’re not home grown terrorists,” Pallotta responded. “They’re good people. They’re your people. They’re in your district.”
Script: (Voice 1) “Those charged with trying to overthrow the government are alleged members of Oath Keepers, an anti-government, right wing militia. (Voice 2) The January 6th attack on the Capitol left people dead, police bloodied and a nation shocked. The Oath Keepers were indicted on conspiracy for helping plan the attack on our democracy. Listen to extremist Frank Pallotta, candidate for Congress in New Jersey, defending the Oath Keepers, a domestic terrorist group. (Pallotta): I think we need to rethink what the Oath Keepers is, and I stand by them. (Voice 2) Here is what they are — a far right militia full of heavily armed extremists. (Pallotta) I stand by them. (Voice 2) On the terrorist watch list. (Pallotta) I stand by them. (Voice 2) The Oath Keepers plotted an attack on our government and capital, and Frank Pallotta has made it clear where he stands. (Pallotta) Are you asking to denounce people who have worked with the people I talk to every day — people who are not homegrown terrorists? That’s your label, not theirs. And I think we need to rethink what the Oath Keepers is, so to answer your question, I will absolutely be friendly with anybody who wants to hear me. (Voice 2): Friendly? With extremists, militias, terrorists. We have real issues to deal with. The last thing we need is extremist Frank Pallotta in Congress siding with the Oath Keepers and defending extremists.”
In the debate, Gottheimer called the Oath Keepers “anti-government, anti-law enforcement, anti-Semitic — blatant racists.”
“Will he please denounce the group?” Gottheimer asked. “I think we should all stand up and oppose anyone who uses violence or hate and as a key component of who they are. And especially when there’s a growing burgeoning threat in the state of New Jersey.”
Pallotta offered to condemn other groups.
“I will denounce Antifa, which I know that you people haven’t done. I will denounce Black Lives Matter organization, which you have not done,” Pallotta stated. “There are police officers and veterans who are part of the Oath Keepers. So you need to take a good, hard look. Josh… those cops and those veterans are part of this organization. And I think you read to me that you need to rethink what the Oath Keepers is.”
Gottheimer called out a Pallotta supporter, Bill Hayden, as the head of the Oath Keepers, but there is no evidence of Hayden’s involvement with the group. Leaked records of the organization’s New Jersey membership did not include Hayden, who is now the Republican nominee for Sussex County Commissioner.
The ad launches one day after federal prosecutors expanded seditious conspiracy charges against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and eight others for their alleged role in the events of January 6.
Two years ago, Gottheimer defeated Pallotta by 7.5 percentage points in a district that became more Democratic in congressional redistricting. But Gottheimer must contend with growing discontent with President Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress in a mid-term election that historically ousts House members of the party that controls the White House.
But Gottheimer has amassed a huge warchest – he had $13.4 million cash-on-hand for his pre-primary report – and the attack ad against Pallotta just three weeks after the Republican primary, shows that the three-term Bergen County Democrat is taking the election seriously.
There are two versions of the Gottheimer ad.