Former Congressmember Max Rose is suggesting the unthinkable: for two politicians, at each other’s throats for the chance to represent a coveted swing seat in Congress, to refrain from lying for five entire weeks.
Rose, the Democratic nominee for his old Staten Island and southern Brooklyn seat in Congress, on Thursday announced he signed a pledge not to lie or mislead in any campaign material until the Nov. 8 election — and he hopes his opponent, incumbent Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, will do the same.
“There may be nothing more emblematic of how much work we have left to do than the constant lies politicians are spewing on a daily basis on social media, in your mailboxes, on your TV screens,” Rose said at a press conference in Bay Ridge. “It’s destroyed all of our faith in government, it’s turned our neighbors into our enemies, it’s made compromise harder than ever.”
If independent fact-checkers and/or the news media finds either Rose or Malliotakis told a lie on the campaign trail, the rules of the game require the offender to donate $500,000 from their campaign accounts to a charity supporting those struggling with addiction, Rose said. And if a Super PAC — which legally cannot coordinate with a candidate — starts spinning tall tales in ads, the beneficiary candidate must disavow the ad and donate $250,000 to charity each day until the ad comes down.
Rose was inspired to take the pledge due to innumerable fibs he says the incumbent representative has proffered to the district, the only swing seat in New York City. He says that dishonesty has fueled a toxic campaign on the ground, highlighting the second incident in as many weeks of Rose campaign signs being defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti on Staten Island (Rose is Jewish).
“I could really spend the next five weeks going lie for lie, blow for blow. Dive into the gutter right alongside her campaign,” Rose said. “Or we can take a different road here, we can do something different. Something worthy of the incredible heroes and public servants of this district. We can set a model for the country.”
The most notable whopper of Malliotakis’ term on Capitol Hill is, of course, The Big Lie: she voted against certifying the results of the 2020 election just days into her term, joining most of her party in endorsing Donald Trump’s bogus claims of widespread voter fraud.
But Rose argues that Malliotakis has also lied to distort both her record and his. At the press conference he noted the incumbent has criticized Democrats and the Biden administration for high gas prices, but voted with her party against a bill aimed at combatting price gouging by energy companies. Malliotakis has accepted more than $120,000 in contributions from PACs and individuals associated with fossil fuels since 2019, according to campaign transparency website Open Secrets.
Rose also said Malliotakis had lied in a recent ad decrying insulin price gouging, wherein she says “the number of Americans who should have access to lifesaving drugs is everyone.”
In fact, Malliotakis bucked her party in March and voted with Democrats to cap the price of insulin at $35 per month. A Rose campaign spokesperson noted to Brooklyn Paper, however, that Malliotakis had voted against the Inflation Reduction Act in August, which included the $35 price cap for Medicare beneficiaries, and the Build Back Better package, which included the comprehensive cap but died in the Senate.
The Malliotakis campaign did not respond to an inquiry as to whether she would be taking the no lying pledge. On Wednesday she called Rose a “flip-flopper” on Twitter for supporting bail reform in his first run for Congress in 2018, only to reverse his stance in the intervening years after Albany Democrats passed bail reform into law.