The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a release today taunting Linda Stender, candidate for New Jersey's 7th Congressional District, on the issue of Congress’ re-authorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The GOP suggests that the Democratic candidate is pretzeled by campaign contributions she has taken from trial lawyers. Stender, the NRCC contends, "has yet to say where she stands on the recent actions by the Democrats in Washington to play political games instead of protecting America’s security.
"Just last week, the Democrats skipped town after repeatedly blocking bipartisan legislation to renew the terrorist surveillance program, opening the floodgates for their trial lawyer friends to tie up the court systems with frivolous lawsuits against private telecommunications companies who have done their patriotic duty in choosing to assist in terrorist surveillances," according to the release.
Originally authored in the 1970s and updated post 9/11, FISA oversees a secret court, which approves or denies requests for search warrants and enables surveillance of international phone traffic. "Will the $5,000 in campaign cash that Stender has taken from trial lawyers convince her to vote in lock-step for (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi’s dangerous national security agenda?" the Republicans query.
Stender hit back this afternoon.
"It's clear from this nonsensical attack that the national Republicans know they're in jeopardy of losing this seat," said Stender campaign spokesman Joshua Henne. "Linda Stender believes we can defend both our nation's security, and the Constitution. The Bush Republicans sadly still haven't learned its possible to walk and chew gum at the same time."
In an interview earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, who opposed re-upping FISA in its current form because of what he cited as concerns about Constitutional rights, explained, "The Republicans are trying to portray the Democrats as soft on security, and it’s absurd.
"We are living in an age where identity theft is very real," Sires added. "We’re going to have these communications companies do all these things with your personal information, and the way it is now the act doesn’t adequately address that. It seems all we do is consider how the big corporations are going to react, my question for the Republicans is, ‘how about the American people?’"
Stender challenged Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Ferguson in 2006 and lost in a narrow election. Ferguson is retiring at the end of his term this year, creating a dogged primary field for Republicans in the 7th district, which includes state Sen. Leonard Lance, businesswoman Kate Whitman, Summit Councilwoman Kelly Hatfield, Scotch Plains Mayor Martin Marks, Warren Mayor Victor Sordillo, Iraq War veteran Thomas Roughneen, andformer Hillsborough Township Deputy Mayor Chris Venis.
Even as theGOPtoday tried to tie Stender to Pelosion the issue of national security, the Democrat wascalling for a change in the way Washington D.C. treats serviceveterans.
"Supporting the troops shouldn't simply be a slogan, nor should our support end when these soldiers come back to American soil," Stender said in a release. "We must be prepared to honor our commitments to an entire generation of brave men and women returning home from war — especially those who need assistance re-adjusting to civilian life or who were wounded in the line of duty. I will fight to provide for those who have risked their lives and personal safety with the benefits they've earned and the help they've been promised."
Stender said she supports legislation creating a "GI Bill for the 21st Century" to provide comprehensive educational benefits for soldiers
returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. According to her campaign, H.R. 2702 would make sure that veterans have the resources needed to succeed in our modern world.The legislation would provide up to four years of tuition, books and fees, plus a monthly stipend.
Meanwhile, Whitman, daughter of former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman,issued a press releasechastising Stender for running a Congressional campaign when she should be focused on solving the state's fiscal crisis with an alternative tohiking tolls in her role asvice chair of the Assembly's Transportation and Public WorksCommittee.
"Aftersix years serving in the State Legislature, Linda Stender has completely failed the hard-working taxpayers on this issue," Whitman said. "It is absolutely, positively wrong for Linda Stender and Jon Corzine to once again try to force taxpayers to pay for their mistakes. Corzine is expected to propose 'freezing' spending at last year’s levels even though last year we didn’t have the money for last years’ spending. While 'freezing' is a step in the right direction, it falls far short of the drastic solution needed to fix the budget crisis.”