Democratic challengers in the 39th legislative district called on Republican incumbents to condemn Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick over a claims on his law firm’s website that offered to discredit sexual assault accusers.
“We call on Assembly members Holly Schepisi and Robert Auth to swiftly denounce Jon Bramnick, the leader of their party in the Assembly, for the reprehensible way his law firm is promoting its ability to ‘discredit’ victims of sexual assault on behalf of their clients,” Gerald Falotico and John Birkner said.
In a statement that did not mention Bramnick, a spokesman for the incumbents’ campaign defended their record on sexual assault.
“As a survivor of sexual assault, Assemblywoman Schepisi’s record and advocacy on behalf of all survivors of sexual assault is unmatched,” Ted Conrad said. “Additionally, Assemblyman Auth was the prime sponsor of Joan’s Law, which increased the penalties for the sexual assault and murder of a minor.”
Since the New Jersey Globe first reported the language on his law firm’s website last week, Bramnick has faced fire for the since-removed language on his website
“Trafficking in misogynistic talking points about sexual assault allegations resulting from ‘hurt feelings’ or ‘confusion’ on the part of victims is completely unacceptable behavior for the leader of a political party in 2019, and if Schepisi and Auth have any independence at all from their party bosses they should say so,” the Democratic challengers said.
Pages for nine areas of criminal law practice have since been removed from Bramnick’s website.
The minority leader said the firm took them down in order to double check the language. He said the site’s content was written by an outside vendor.
The Republicans leveraged the Democrats’ attack into one of their own, hitting the challengers over a sexual assault scandal that rocked Trenton for the first half of 2019.
“It is unfortunate that our opponents will only speak out on this issue when it is politically expedient for them to do so,” Conrad said. “Where were John and Gerry when the Murphy administration was affirmatively working to discredit Katie Brennan? Where were they when the administration tried to cover up the alleged sexual assault of Ms. Brennan?”
State Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan accused former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez of sexually assaulting her in April 2017, when he was in charge of Muslim and Latino outreach for Murphy’s campaign.
It’s not clear that Murphy’s administration ever sought to discredit Brennan, though the administration’s handling of her accusations was issued castigated by a bipartisan bicameral select committee created to investigate Alvarez’s hiring.
Schepisi sat on the committee.
The content of Bramnick’s website has emerged as an issue in his own re-election race, as well as in races in the eighth and 25th districts.
It remains to be seen how much staying power the issue has.
“With the new revelations that Mr. Bramnick is actively trying to help accused predators avoid the law designed to identify them in our communities, it is even more important that Schepisi and Auth must condemn these practices immediately, unless they are too beholden to their party leaders,” Birkner and Falotico said.