Democratic super PAC ads target Garrett

June 14, 2016

By Herb Jackson

A Democratic super PAC that spent $29 million to influence House races in the 2014 election began running its first television ads of the general election cycle on Tuesday, and they are aimed at Rep. Scott Garrett, the North Jersey conservative facing his best-funded challenger ever.

The ad highlights excerpts from news articles and editorials about Garrett’s refusal last year to financially support a House Republican campaign fund. Politico reported last July that Garrett, of Wantage in Sussex County, told fellow Republicans he would not back the party fund because it had previously supported gay candidates.

Earlier this year, Garrett called that story a fabrication but in July he told Bergen County Republican chairman, Bob Yudin, that the fund’s past support for gay candidates and his religious opposition to same-sex marriage were among his reasons withholding support. Garrett has since said he would support a gay candidate seeking office if they supported the Republican platform, which opposes same-sex marriage.

Democrats seeking to oust Garrett have used the incident to try to shame financial services firms, which have been Garrett’s most generous contributors, into cutting him off from future support. Several companies have said they would no longer give to Garrett, chairman of a subcommittee that regulates Wall Street and the mortgage industry, because of his stance.

Among other things, the new attack ad quotes a Star-Ledger editorial about Garrett saying the financial sector was “horrified by his bigotry against gays,” and an editorial from The Record that called his stance about gay candidates “repugnant.”

House Majority PAC, a committee that can raise and spend unlimited amounts as long as its efforts are not coordinated with any candidate, plans to spend $80,000 to run the ad on cable television for a week.

This year, House Majority PAC has raised more than $12 million, including $2 million from Paloma Partners founder Donald Sussman and $1 million each from architect Jon Stryker, BLS Investments chairman Bernard Schwartz, and Euclidean Capital president James H. Simons.

“This summer, House Majority PAC will be making sure as many voters as possible know the facts about Congressman Garrett’s hateful agenda,” said the committee’s communications director, Jeb Fain.

Garrett this year faces Josh Gottheimer of Wyckoff, a former Microsoft executive and one-time speechwriter for President Bill Clinton who is making his first bid for office. Gottheimer is one of the best-funded challengers in the country, having raised $2.3 million since January 2014, while Garrett has raised $1.2 million.

Garrett’s campaign manager, Sarah Neibart, said in an email that Gottheimer was a political insider and was getting help from other insider resources to buy a seat in Congress.

“Despite being a top target for Democrats in every election cycle, the voters have chosen Congressman Scott Garrett time and time again. That’s because people in New Jersey aren’t fooled by attack ads and lies funded by Washington special interests,” Neibert said.

“Scott Garrett has always fought against Washington’s bloated government, so it’s no wonder that special interests are once again using their top resources to attack him,” she said.