Just two months into his second term, the campaign for Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (D-Ringoes) House seat is already swaying.
Republicans have repeatedly attacked the congressman for his failure to properly disclose at least $671,000 in 100 different stock trades, a failure Malinowski said was the result of an oversight.
The transactions, he said, were made by a financial adviser, and he told NJ Advance Media that there was “no good reason” for the missing deposits “other than to postpone paperwork. difficult within the framework of my responsibilities”.
Republicans aren’t buying that explanation and have seized on the issue in an attempt to rail against the Democrat, who won a second term against state Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean. Jr. (R-Westfield) by just over a point in a race where votes have taken weeks to pile up.
“While businesses suffered, Congressman Tom Malinowski was busy moving stocks so he could profit from the pandemic,” Republican House candidate Rik Mehta said in a social media post Monday.
Mehta ran for the US Senate in what was widely seen as an unwinnable race – the GOP last won one of New Jersey’s US Senate seats in 1972 – but launched a campaign in early February for the seventh congressional district seat.
He will likely face Kean in the primary. The minority leader is not seeking re-election to his state senate seat this year, and while he hasn’t said whether he will host another congressional race, it is expected that he enters the race.
But the attack is not the first the congressman has faced from the Republican National Committee of Congress and outside conservative groups.
“We have been receiving attacks since the beginning of the mandate. We have the attacks on the reopening of schools. We have the vaccine attacks. You have the Murphy’s ties,” a spokesperson for Malinowski said. “It’s just one in a bucket of what will never end. He’s a prime target. »
The incumbent’s campaign sees the jabs as test shots to see which message will be most effective when the race gets underway in earnest next year. Although GOP operatives continued to publicize the attack on social media, it has been a week since the NRCC pushed them widely to the press.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is also active in the district. Last week, they ran digital ads touting Malinowski’s support for the recently passed $1.9 trillion virus relief bill.
But the vulnerability isn’t unique to the former assistant secretary of state, and the ads aren’t necessarily tied to the most recent Republican attacks. The DCCC ran nearly identical ads in the third and 11th congressional districts, where two-term Reps. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown) and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) hold seats. A DCCC spokesperson did not respond to a query about the size of the purchase or the placement of the ad.
While his House delegation comrades have come under some attack, none have suffered it to the same degree as Malinowski, perhaps because Republicans see a strong candidate in Kean, the son of the former Governor Tom Kean.
The younger Kean spent 18 years in the Senate, 13 of them as Minority Leader.
“Until they decide what their messaging line is and put it on TV, one attack is equal to any other to me,” the spokesperson said. “If it’s real and legitimate, we’re going to do what we have to do to make sure we’re right with our constituents, but I suspect Tom will continue to bear the brunt of it.”
The fracas on stock purchases was avoidable, Rasmussen said. Other House Democrats, including those in New Jersey, opted out of individual actions to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
sherrill started taking his money out of individual stocks and putting them into exchange-traded funds (ETF) last January.
“It’s a very smart way to avoid any controversy,” Rasmussen said. “It’s a little bit different, obviously, but it invites scrutiny of every single one of these stock trades. And then you factor it into the votes he might have taken, and it’s just a road he doesn’t. didn’t have to take. It’s a road he didn’t have to open.
Malinowski is now set to establish a blind trust. It’s unclear when exactly this will be finalized, as the trust must first be approved by the House Ethics Committee.
Malinowski’s missed deposits, first reported by Business Insider, have drawn ethical complaints from watchdog groups. The congressman said he was prepared to pay a fine, and there is no evidence to suggest his violations extend beyond the delay in his filings.
But that might be cold comfort once the campaigns in New Jersey’s 7th District leave their birthplace.
A top Republican political consultant has shared insight into what could happen in a harsh attack on Malinowski.
“Tom Malinowski was doing covert stock trading in the early days of the pandemic,” said Harrison Neely, who was Kean’s 2020 strategist to profit from companies providing COVID testing. His constituents deserve full transparency while he is under investigation.
Malinowski sold shares of Chembio Diagnostics, a New York-based infectious disease testing company, on March 19, 2020, when it closed at $2.93. The stock price exploded the next day, peaking at $15.54 in late April after the $4 million announcement.
The closing price of $2.93 was lower than it has been every other day for the past five years, except for three: March 18, 17 and 16, 2020. The spokesperson said Malinowski sold at a loss.
The grievances against Malinowski follow high-profile allegations of wrongdoing by Democrats against Republican lawmakers in 2020.
Allegations that two GOP U.S. senators from Georgia profited from stock trades that occurred when they had inside information in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
There is no indication that Malinowski benefited from the confidential information available to him as a congressman.
This became a major issue in the campaigns of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and their losses led to a Democratic majority in the US Senate.
“It’s going to be a contested election. It’s not like anything is on or off the table,” Rasmussen said. “He didn’t put it on the table by missing the deadline, but you add another layer to the story. It adds another layer to any attack on one of these trades. You can condemn the non- disclosure.