A year after the deadly attack at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, southern Brooklyn and Staten Island Representative Nicole Malliotakis is still defined in the eyes of some constituents for her actions before and after the attempted insurrection, which they say helped enable the attack and undermined American democracy.
Malliotakis, New York City’s lone congressional Republican, was one of 147 Republicans in the House of Representatives to vote against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona and Pennsylvania, citing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. That vote came in the hours after a mob of some 2,000 Donald Trump supporters, egged on by the then-president, stormed the Capitol building, ransacked the place, assaulted cops, and threatened representatives and staffers in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race.
The vote came just three days into her term as a member of Congress, after defeating one-term Democrat Max Rose in the November 2020 general election, but it’s cast a shadow on her entire tenure as many constituents, particularly in the more Democratic pockets of the 11th district, liken her actions to treason.
“Republicans are not speaking out about what happened a year ago today,” said Denise Reiser, a Bay Ridge resident who attended a Thursday rally outside Malliotakis’ Third Avenue office. “It was sedition, treason. They’re not honest, and she was one of them.”
Malliotakis also voted against forming a commission to investigate the attack, and after the commission proposal died in the Senate, voted against forming the Jan. 6 Select Committee, along with most other Republicans. Trump and most of the GOP nationwide have spent the year following Jan. 6 not only casting doubt on Biden’s victory, but also pushing bills through state legislatures aimed at restricting the right to vote, restructuring state election systems to allow for greater partisan control, and purging any election officials insufficiently loyal to Trump.
“Nicole Malliotakis wants to take us in the direction of dictatorship and authoritarianism,” said Jon Green, of the Center for Popular Democracy, in front of Malliotakis’ Bay Ridge office Thursday. “Not only is Nicole Malliotakis complicit in the events of Jan. 6, she is complicit in everything that has followed.”
It’s also a key sticking point for Malliotakis as she runs for reelection this year. Rose has already announced that he will contest the race again, though he will first face democratic socialist Brittany Ramos DeBarros in the Democratic primary — both have been highly critical of Malliotakis.
“House Republicans would tear America apart if it meant holding onto power,” Rose said at Fort Hamilton on Thursday. “That’s not patriotism, that’s not putting America first, that’s toxic.”
Ramos DeBarros said that Malliotakis was helping Trump spread “the big lie” about the 2020 election. “My Republican incumbent opponent helped him promote the big lie with super-spreader rallies in our district and even after the attempted coup, doubled down by voting against certifying the election results,” she tweeted Thursday.
Asked for comment, a spokesperson for Malliotakis sent a statement from the Congressmember calling Jan. 6 “wrong, unacceptable,” and something that “should never happen again” and arguing that the Capitol Police are not adequately staffed and that Capitol is “not yet secure enough to withstand future attacks.”
“Instead of playing partisan, political games, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi should be implementing the 104 safety recommendations made by the Inspector General and let the law enforcement agencies investigating and prosecuting offenders continue to do their job without political interference,” Malliotakis told Brooklyn Paper, through her rep.
The pol, however, did not respond to questions regarding whether she still believes the election was fraudulent or if she stands by her vote not to certify the results. Her spokesperson referred Brooklyn Paper to an op-ed she wrote for the Staten Island Advance a week after the riot, where she said her “objective was not to overturn the election” while continuing to make unsupported claims of voter fraud.
Malliotakis represents the only congressional swing district in the city. 11th Districters preferred Donald Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections, but voted for Barack Obama in 2012. It’s had five congressional representatives since 2009: three Republicans and two Democrats. The Staten Island and Brooklyn sections are also split on political loyalty: in 2020, Rose beat Malliotakis in the Brooklyn section 52.3 percent to 47.5 percent, but Malliotakis made up for it on Staten Island, where she beat Rose 55.1 to 44.7.
As such, the 11th is always a campaign battleground where armies of volunteers knock doors ahead of the November general election. But the incumbent might be in for an even-uglier-than-normal challenge this year, as constituents express disgust with their representative’s actions.
“It’s embarrassing. I think she’s unfit to hold office,” said Rachel Brody, an organizer at “Nicole is Complicit PAC” — a bipartisan, community-based political action committee working to oust the pol, of having Malliotakis as her representative. “It’s not just the insurrection vote, but there have been plenty of other votes where she’s voted against her community. She needs to be voted out.”
Across the borough Thursday, a cadre of local politicians and faith leaders, such as State Attorney General Letitia James, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Borough President Antonio Reynoso, state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, rallied under the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza to commemorate the first anniversary of the Capitol riot and to recommit themselves to protecting voting rights for all New Yorkers.
“One year ago today, we witnessed a deadly attack on our government to stop the peaceful and orderly transfer of power,” said Myrie, who represents a swath of Brooklyn including Sunset Park, Park Slope, East Flabush, and who also chairs the Senate Elections Committee. “The Capitol riot in DC ended that day, but the assault on voting rights has continued in state capitals across this country. Instead of barricades and bear spray, the insurrectionists’ tools now are bills and laws designed to restrict voting and weaken the fabric of our democracy.”
Additional reporting by Meaghan McGoldrick