Home>Congress>Using Murphy as a bludgeon, Pallotta attacks Gottheimer on law enforcement

Using Murphy as a bludgeon, Pallotta attacks Gottheimer on law enforcement

Republican House candidate attacks incumbent over soon-to-be-signed bill that would release roughly 3,000 inmates

By Nikita Biryukov, October 08 2020 3:48 pm

Republican House candidate Frank Pallotta is taking aim at Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s support of law enforcement, using a state bill that would free roughly 3,000 inmates in a bid to prevent COVID-19 from spreading within New Jersey’s prison system.

“By remaining silent on this reckless, dangerous plan by Gov. Murphy, Josh Gottheimer is enabling crime to flood our streets and making it known that he is 100% anti-police and pro-crime, with no backbone,” Pallotta said. “Knocking almost a year off these criminals’ sentences sends a clear message to criminals that they will not be held accountable for their actions.”

The bill would reduce certain inmates’ sentences by up to eight months, though persons convicted of murder, sexual assault and certain other sex crimes are not eligible.

Citing four unnamed sources briefed on the matter, NJ.com on Wednesday reported Gov. Phil Murphy intends to sign that bill on Oct. 19, meaning it would take effect on Nov. 4, the day after the general election.

The attacks follow a pattern set by other Republicans in the state and country, who have attempted to tie Democrats in swing districts to the Defund the Police movement in a bid to draw away law enforcement support.

It’s not clear how effective that strategy will be against Gottheimer, a moderate with membership in the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus who has cosponsored bills creating additional penalties for crimes targeting law enforcement and reauthorizing a program subsidizing law enforcement purchases of bulletproof vests.

“Josh is proud to have just received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, and it’s because of his long-standing commitment to law enforcement and all first responders,” Gottheimer communications director Sam Dorn said. “No matter how many times Fraudster Frank says it, Josh is opposed to defunding the police — and his record only reinforces that.”

The Republican also attacked Gottheimer over provisions of the revised Heroes Act, House Democrats’ proposal for a second round of stimulus.

Gottheimer voted in favor of that bill last week, which included provisions barring cash bail during a national emergency related to communicable diseases and for 60 days after said emergency’s end.

The revised bill also removed $300 million in funding for community-oriented police services programs and $300 million in Byrne Justice Assistance Grants meant to cover the cost of personal protective equipment for law enforcement personnel, among other things. Those monies were present in the original Heroes Act, which Republican lawmakers opposed in part because of its $3.4 trillion price tag.

“Our Congressman, Josh Gottheimer is clearly taking a hard stance against Law & Order and against the people of my district,” Pallotta said.

The Republican also attacked Gottheimer for his yes vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, charging the incumbent voted to remove “legal protections from police officers, exposing them to criminal charges for simply doing their jobs.”

The bill made it a criminal offense for law enforcement personnel to engage in sexual acts with individuals placed under arrest or otherwise put into law enforcement custody.

Pallotta’s attack likely refers to a provision of the bill that eliminates qualified immunity, which shields police officers who unknowingly violate citizens’ constitutional rights from civil suits. Qualified immunity cannot be used as a defense in criminal cases, and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act does nothing to change that.

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