In campaign advertisements advocating the re-election of Roselle Mayor Donald Shaw, a secretive dark money group attacked Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., calling the son of slain 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of late President John F. Kennedy, a “dangerous conspiracy theorist.”
Kennedy hails from one of America’s most prominent Democratic families. One of his uncles was Senator Edward Kennedy, who was called a “Democratic icon” and “The Lion of the Senate.”
Dark money behind negative ads appears to be aimed at Jamel Holley, a former assemblyman and council member who is seeking to return to the office of Mayor of Roselle.
Holley is running against Shaw in the June 6 Democratic primary election for the position of Roselle Mayor.
The dark money group putting out negative ads against Holley is not helping the incumbent because the public generally thinks that the Shaw accusations are unfair and instead of using untraceable funds, politicians sponsoring the group left fingerprints that can be seen from space.
Despite the attack, political analysts suggest that it will have a negligible impact on the presidential campaign.
However, the harsh personal negativity of attacking Kennedy, who is closely associated with Holley, a former assemblyman, mayor, and councilman who is well known and respected in Roselle, borders on incompetence.
Experts say online ads allow campaigners to make false accusations and there is no accountability.
The attack on Kennedy may be seen as an attempt to smear Holley by association, a negative campaign tactic that is not uncommon for local elections, but the use of a dark money group to launch the attack failed to provide a layer of cover since they are the influence of Senator Joseph Cryan.
The group identified as paying for the ads is Middle Ground, a super PAC formed in late March by Christina L. Gawler, 38, a Republican who is registered to vote in Ocean County, at 3 Parkside Drive in Jackson.
Gawler’s company, MCF Consulting Group, was formed on December 8, 2022, and the GOP political operative is working in concert with Scott J Snyder, 44, who was the campaign manager for Senator Raymond Lesniak, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan & Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, when they almost lost in 2011.
Shaw is an Elizabeth homeowner who last year evicted a disabled senior citizen who was a tenant in the four-family house that he and his wife purchased with a Federal Housing Agency loan that requires them to reside in the home.
RFK Jr. is no stranger to New Jersey. In 1976, he campaigned door to door in suburban Essex County in the company of a friend from Harvard named Peter Shapiro, who became the youngest person ever elected to the New Jersey General Assembly and went on to serve as Essex County Executive and as the 1985 Democratic nominee for New Jersey Governor.
His decades of hard work as a lawyer established Bobby Kennedy Jr. as one of the most effective environmental activists in the country. Kennedy helped found the non-profit environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance in 1999 and has served as the president of its board.
From 1986 until 2017, Kennedy was a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit environmental organization. From 1984 until 2017, he was a board member and attorney for Hudson Riverkeeper.
For over thirty years, Kennedy was an adjunct professor of environmental law at Pace University School of Law, where he was supervising attorney and co-director of the Environmental Litigation Clinic, which he founded in 1987.