To the Editor:
By now, many of us have been subjected repeatedly to the infamous “dangerously radical” attack ad from the Tom Kean for Congress campaign, falsely portraying incumbent United States Representative Tom Malinowski as a deeply immoral man who would deliberately conceal the identities of sex offenders, thereby creating a more unsafe environment for America’s children. The ad runs relentless and is ubiquitous — on television, YouTube, in Facebook and Twitter news feeds, snail mailers, etc. Almost anywhere new information is received, citizens in New Jersey’s 7th congressional district are bombarded, day after day, week after week, with the calumny that Tom Malinowski is a bad man, a man of ill repute.
Tom Malinowski was a lobbyist at Human Rights Watch in 2006 when the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act became law. Lobbyists and groups that lobby are required by law to submit activity reports. The February 14, 2007 report lists several dozen “Specific lobbying issues,” 29 of them addressing domestic matters, the rest worldwide. And of the 29, only one reads: “Sex offender legislation,” and about which HRW took issue with certain provisions of the proposed national sex offender registry, particularly those which publicly stigmatize juvenile offenders for the rest of their lives.
Further inquiry reveals it was actually co-signee Jennifer Daskal who spearheaded domestic issues, while Malinowski oversaw international issues because of his global experience and expertise. The mere presence of Mr. Malinowski’s name as one of multiple signers of that entire 2006-07 report is now being implemented, with malice aforethought, in a deliberate false light to depict a good and decent man who is an honorable, devoted public servant as a rotten scoundrel not only unfit for office, but unfit as a member of civilized society itself. It is the dirtiest of dirty politics and it is reprehensible.
Like unto defamation, false light is a recognized tort, an actionable civil wrong whereby true fact is presented in a false light, often with intent to defame one’s good name and reputation. And this is exactly what Tom Kean has been doing to Tom Malinowski. It is so egregiously false that clergy and members of Kean’s own party have implored him to pull the ad. Yet Kean and fellow Republicans persist in this defamatory course of conduct. Being that Mr. Malinowski is a public figure and moreover in a political campaign where both parties are engaging each other, the First Amendment takes precedence so as to legally excuse this and other ads that are intentionally misleading.
But this one is different. And it is dangerous. There is no one more vile than one who abuses children. And one who gives any sort of aid and comfort to a child sex abuser is deemed almost as vile. Falsely accusing someone of shielding child sex offenders is also vile, as New Jersey Republican Party Chairman Doug Steinhardt tweeted: “Malinowski’s roots are rotten. That he was bought and paid for to lobby against protecting children from sex offenders is emblematic of his self-serving nature.”
A brand new campaign ad promotes Tom Kean Jr. as one who reaches across the aisle to find common ground. If Mr. Kean wants to go to Washington in January 2021 to represent the populace at large, he can begin the bipartisan process by immediately ceasing and desisting from this slanderous behavior. It would signal decency, humility and the ability to redeem oneself, and may just garner a few votes.