WESTFIELD, N.J. — The gloves are off in the 7th Congressional District.
On Friday, the campaign of Leonard Lance (R) demanded that his challenger, Tom Malinowski (D), refund campaign contributions from a super PAC linked to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.
“Tom Malinowski says he’s against so-called ‘dark money’ but then his campaign takes tens of thousands of dollars from a super PAC roundly criticized by ethics watchdog groups,” said Lance for Congress campaign manager Jim Hilk. “Malinowski has spent the last 25-plus years living and working in the swamp of Washington. Now, having parachuted into a rented house in New Jersey just a few months ago, Malinowski thinks 7th District voters won’t notice his hypocrisy. He’s wrong. Malinowski needs to come clean and return any campaign contributions raised by Mayor Fulop and reject any financial support from Fulop’s shady super PAC.”
Fulop’s “Coalition for Progress” is a super PAC which, according to Politico, “was accused by Washington, D.C., campaign finance watchdog groups of being a vehicle for ‘laundering money.‘”
The story began in 2015 when the PAC raised $3.2 million. $1 million originated from an out-of-state shell company formed one day prior to donating the money. According to Politico,
“After an uproar and two complaints to the Federal Election Commission filed by three Washington-based ethics watchdog groups, the PAC acknowledged that Vivek Garipalli — the co-founder of a for-profit hospital company to which Fulop once tried to award a lucrative ambulance contract — was the source of the $1 million.”
In April 2018, the PAC raised $150,000 to help both Malinowski and, further north, NJ-11 Democrat Mikie Sherrill.
On July 17th, Fulop hosted a separate fundraiser for Malinowski in Jersey City.
Malinowski’s personal campaign finance hypocrisy is well-documented and a matter of public record. Back on March 1, 2018, touted an endorsement from a campaign finance reform advocacy group called End Citizens United (ECU).
“Tom Malinowski says he wants to, ‘break the hold of special interest and dark money on our democracy.’ He can put his money where his mouth is and return and reject Fulop’s dark dirty laundered money,” Hilk added.
Lance’s district — the only one currently held by a N.J. GOP incumbent to have voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 — is considered a toss up this fall.