A conservative political group just launched an ugly false attack on Cory Booker, and we just couldn’t let it slide. Here’s the real story:
The ad accuses Booker, who is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate in New Jersey, of using public office to ‘enrich himself’ through ‘sweetheart deals.’ We have a hard time seeing how that could be the case when Cory gave away over 80% of his income to charity last year. (He took in $540,431, mostly from speaking engagements, but gave away $440,000). He also voluntarily reduced his salary - twice - while serving as mayor of Newark.
Another attack hurled in the ad is that Cory ‘failed to pay his personal property taxes.’ The only problem with that allegation? It happened in 2011, when the city of Newark changed payment due dates without telling property owners. Cory was one of 11,000 cited, and paid when he received notice.
The fine print of the ad bears the standard disclaimer ‘not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.’ Yet, Cory’s opponent Jeff Bell worked as a policy director for the affiliated American Principles Project until February of this year. The goals of that organization include restricting abortion access, banning gay marriage and returning to an economic gold standard (seriously).
The ad goes so far as to suggest that Cory’s actions should land him behind bars - a claim that is both ridiculous and hypocritical, considering that Bell has admitted to falling behind on his own taxes for several years running. There are also uncomfortable racial implications here, considering that the ad, clearly made in support of a white candidate if not with his direct involvement, implies that one of the only two sitting Black senators deserves ‘jail time.
This ad is shameless and offensive, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. Polls show Bell trailing by an average of 13 points, but some polls have him within single digits. That’s way too close for comfort, considering he’s an outside candidate who has raised a fraction of the money that Cory has.
Cory Booker is a leading voice on criminal justice reform, education and economic policy, and he is one of the most effective bipartisan negotiators we have. It would be a shame to see his reelection campaign threatened by baseless partisan attacks and Democratic midterm slump.
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