“Welle vs. Welle” at the APP Editorial Board Debate, a few examples

Neptune, NJ—At the Asbury Park Press Editorial Board Debate meeting earlier today, Rep. Chris Smith successfully highlighted his record of bipartisan legislative achievement and the work he has done on behalf of the people of his district in Central NJ.

“GovTrack, which is a watch dog, gives me #1 in New Jersey for being the most bipartisan… I’m able to work on the Senate side with Democrats and Republicans to promote a very positive agenda for the disenfranchised,” said Rep. Smith during the meeting.

Josh Welle continued to demonstrate a disregard for the truth and political amnesia when discussing statements and positions he himself has already made throughout the course of his year-long congressional campaign.

When asked if there were any issues that he would like to discuss, Smith said, “Mr. Welle in his tweets and his ads- so much distorts my record and we have chapter and verse. We can share it with you if you’d like to see it. But one that gets me the most – he says I have no empathy for the families of our veterans.”

Welle then said on camera: “The Congressman is suggesting that I said he had no empathy. That is untrue. I’ve never said he had no empathy for our veteran population.”

Smith confidently pushed back and soon after the debate, released a video from a Welle campaign event juxtaposed with his lie from the debate today.

In another exchange, Randy Bergmann of the APP questioned Welle: “It’s been reported that you were nearly six months late in filing your Financial Disclosure Form.” Financial Disclosure forms are filed with the House Ethics Committee, per the Ethics in Government Act.

Welle dodged the question about the Ethics requirements and discussed election fundraising reports instead.

“The answer to the first question was on the FEC [Federal Election Commission] filing – we were several weeks late. It wasn’t six months and there was a $250 fine if you don’t file your paperwork. This is my first time running for Congress…That’s how you handle FEC issues, there’s no malfeasance there.”

Welle’s answer ignored Bergmann’s question about the Financial Disclosure, required by the House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee for all federal candidates.  Violations of the Financial Disclosure laws can carry up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $57,847. By referring to the Federal Elections Commission, which is an entirely separate agency, Welle’s answer actually served to underscore a second Pandora’s box of problems he is having with the FEC.

Smith brought both problems–Ethics Committee and FEC–into focus: “Mr. Welle is so confused. You don’t file your Financial Disclosure with the FEC. There’s an Ethics in Government Act. He filed 133 days late [under the act] and only when he was called out and he failed to file.”

Smith also highlighted Welle’s problems with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

“There’s now letters to [Welle]’s campaign… saying that he’s gotten his FEC filings–that’s Federal Election Commission filings–all fouled up. If you can’t do the basic paperwork of being a candidate, how do you expect to write legislation?” Smith said. Click here for: Letter 1; Letter 2; Letter 3.

In a story that ran on the NJ Globe, the Welle campaign has indicated it will be unable to resolve the issues the FEC is asking about until at least November 1st.

Bergmann also asked Welle about his failed business, saying, “How can you utilize your two and a half years with a company that apparently didn’t succeed as a selling point in your candidacy?”

Welle answered Bergmann condescendingly, “Your benchmark of success and mine may be different.”

In an additional segment with the editorial board that was not carried on Facebook, Welle said he did not support free college tuition at NJ Community Colleges.

That, too, was a surprise since on February 26, 2018, Welle tweeted, “I believe community college should be free in this country – it’s an enabler for people to get ahead. Free. Full stop.”

Finally, when asked which Democrat should be Speaker of the House if Democrats take control, Welle indicated he would not support Nancy Pelosi, and instead named Tim Ryan from Ohio.

Yet, in the Monmouth and Ocean Democratic Primary Debate on February 13, 2018, he said, “I believe she’s [Pelosi] been a leader that’s taken this country forward… I think she should be applauded and be given the chance to lead again.”

In response to the same question on the Blue Wave NJ questionnaire Welle stated, “I support electing Rep. Frank Pallone to the Speakers position.”