Union County Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski slammed Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick over claims on his law firm’s website saying it would seek to discredit sexual assault accusers.
“To see something on Jon Bramnick’s website like that, it’s disappointing. It’s shocking, but unfortunately, he does reflect a certain bias among groups of men all over the country,” Kowalski said. “There has to be a concerted effort to overcome this bias where it occurs, and we’re trying to do that here in Union County.”
Since-removed language on the website of Bramnick’s law firm, which was first reported by the New Jersey Globe, said “we will investigate your case and seek to discredit your accuser.”
Bramnick has not returned to several calls and texts beginning at 9:50 AM Thursday, but he told Politico New Jersey he is not involved in his firm’s criminal law practice, adding that the portion of the text related to clients who believed their accusers were lying.
“Of course, everyone’s entitled to a defense in a court of law, but to put it on your website, it’s just so outrageous bringing up the kinds of stereotypes about women we thought we put behind us,” Kowalski said.
Other language on the website said “people accuse others of these types of crimes because of hurt feelings, or in anger over breaking up or even confusion over what actually happened.” It also suggested that the alleged assailants could have been drugged by their victims.
Kowalski said the website’s language was cause for Bramnick to be examined through the lens of the #MeToo movement.
Bramnick has never been accused of sexual assault or harassment, and there is no evidence to suggest the assemblyman has ever committed or been involved in such transgressions.
“I certainly feel like someone who says that sort of thing in public should come under scrutiny himself,” Kowalski said. “I don’t know whether he has said things like that in person, but to have it on his website indicates his approval, so I really think it would be best, certainly for women in our area, to be represented by someone who is more sensitive to the issues of the victims of sexual violence.”
The issue could put Bramnick, who is already facing a tough re-election race, in a politically tenuous position.
The majority of the 21st legislative district falls within Union County. The county has a majority-woman freeholder board and offers a number of county-sponsored services for sexual assault victims.
Bramnick and his running mate, Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, face challenges from Democrats Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman.
It’s possible the two women will make the issue central to their campaign in the closing weeks of the election. They’ve already hit Bramnick once over the website’s contents.
“We really are doing our best to help people who face sexual violence, so we don’t want to promote someone who thinks it’s ok to find legal tricks to get around facing justice,” Kowalski said.