New Jersey House Dem's Stock Trading Problems Put 2022 Re-Election in Doubt

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

New Jersey Democrat House member Tom Malinowski prevailed in one of the closest races in 2020 that was actually won by a Democrat, beating state Senator Tom Kean Jr., by approximately 5500 votes out of 430,000 votes cast.

Kean Jr. is the son of one of New Jersey’s most popular past governors, Tom Kean Sr., and is seen as the brightest rising star in the New Jersey GOP. Kean Jr. has announced that he will not seek re-election to the state Senate and is expected to once again challenge Malinowski in 2022.

Problems for Malinowsky worsened yesterday with this story from the AP reporting numerous stock trades in and out of Malinoski’s account involving companies engaged in Pandemic response efforts.

In the early days of the pandemic, New Jersey Rep. Tom Malinowski scolded those looking to capitalize on the once-in-a-century health crisis.

“This is not the time for anybody to be profiting off of selling ventilators, vaccines, drugs, treatments, PPE (personal protective equipment), anywhere in the world,” the two-term Democrat and former assistant secretary of state told MSNBC in April 2020.

He did not heed his own admonition.

Since early 2020, Malinowski has bought or sold as much as $1 million of stock in medical and tech companies that had a stake in the virus response, according to an analysis of records by The Associated Press. The trades were just one slice of a stock buying and selling spree by the congressman during that time, worth as much as $3.2 million, that he did not properly disclose.

As the story notes, Congress has passed largely ineffectual laws to curtail the ability of members to trade stocks in companies based on information known to the government but not the public at large. But the laws that have been passed do generally require members to disclose stock trades they have made based on certain defined criteria.

Malinowski failed to disclose his trading as required, and multiple ethics complaints have been filed against him with the House Ethics Committee.

There is no indication Malinowski acted on inside information to make his investment decisions. Still, it’s difficult to assess the full scope of his financial activity. Nearly six months after 2020 drew to a close, mandatory reports to Congress detailing his trades have not been made public.

In an interview Thursday, Malinowski said his failure to file was “a mistake that I own 100%.”

New Jersey has a 10-2 split in favor of Democrats in its House delegation, but Malinowski is in a district with only a D+1 registration advantage. This “inside politics” article suggests that the redistricting process might end up helping Kean by putting some additional GOP voters in Malinowski’s district in order to remove them from two neighboring districts, thereby improving the re-election chances of the two Democrat incumbents in those districts.

The redistricting process in New Jersey begins with a 12-member “commission,” equally split with six appointees from Democrat legislative leaders and six appointees from GOP legislative leaders. Those 12 members then choose a 13th member to serve as Chair, and that person must receive at least 7 votes to be selected. If the Commission cannot reach an agreement on a proposed Map, the two map proposals receiving the most votes are to be submitted to the New Jersey Supreme Court, with the Court making the final selection.

Political pundits in New Jersey see it as unlikely that whoever makes the final decision would agree to a map likely to expand the current Democrat edge to 11 or 12 seats  So the best-case scenario for Democrats is to approve a map likely to maintain, at best, the current 10-2 split in their favor.  But the current map that has produced those splits has three, very vulnerable Democrat districts, and there is some sentiment behind the idea that the map-makers might sacrifice Malinowski’s district in order to have a much more durable 9-3 map for the next decade.

In an interesting twist, Kean would be up for re-election to the state Senate this year and recently announced that he would not run for that office again — even though he won’t know what his redrawn congressional district map will look like for several more months. Without Pres. Trump to drive turnout for New Jersey Democrats, and with Malinowski now suffering from self-inflicted wounds, this New Jersey House seat is going to be high on the list of takeover targets as the House GOP looks to win the six seats necessary to retake the majority and bring an end to the Biden Administration’s legislative agenda.