An unregistered, dark money super PAC has sent out a mailer to Republican primary voters in New Jersey’s 5th district in what looks like another bid to help pick a weaker general election opponent for Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff).
“A vote for Frank Pallotta means the return of Donald Trump,” touts the flyer from the Opportunity for All Action Fund. The mailing touts Pallotta as a Trump-supporting Republican endorsed by National Right to Life and the NRA and includes the image of an old tweet from Trump endorsing Pallotta’s 2020 campaign against Gottheimer.
The messaging is one that seemingly appeals to Republican primary voters: “The Pallotta-Trump agenda is too conservative for New Jersey.”
The super PAC doesn’t necessarily come from Gottheimer. The three-term Democratic congressman has used his own campaign funds to deliver a similar message in recent weeks. A spokesman for the Gottheimer campaign declined comment on the super PAC.
Democrats close to Gottheimer say he prefers to run against Pallotta, whom he bested by 31,842 votes two years ago, than Nick De Gregorio, a young U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Josh knows he can beat Pallotta in this district. Pallotta isn’t a great candidate,” said a Democratic strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “He’s not as sure about De Gregorio. He comes across more earnestly that Pallotta, who seems like a used car salesman. He’s a veteran and he’s been raising money.”
Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, said that interfering in a party’s primary election comes with some risk.
“The oldest trick in the book is when campaigns and parties try to pick their opponents,” Rasmussen said. “The next oldest answer back is that the other side must think one opponent will be easier to beat than the other.”
The group has a website, using the OFA acronym – perhaps a misleading bid to implicate Obama for America – but the site, registered anonymously in October 2021, has no address, contact information or phone number. The Opportunity for All Action Fund has not registered with the Federal Election Commission or the Internal Revenue Service.
Their website includes only a simple mission statement: “To unite all Americans into action around shared values of economic and social empowerment.”
A similarly named group, Opportunity for All, was filed with the IRS in 2016 by Tim Howes, now the Somerset County GOP Chairman, but was never used and remains dormant.
“I have absolutely nothing to do with this and haven’t touched Opportunity for All in five years, Howe told the New Jersey Globe.
Another independent expenditure group that used the Opportunity for All name in 2012, a Texas-based super PAC, ceased operating in 2013.
Rasmussen said that whoever is trying to covertly push Republican voters into Pallotta’s camp might call “under the category of being careful what you wish for.”
“Does anyone think former President Trump is predictable enough that he won’t respond when he hears how his old endorsement has been taken out of context? You just don’t know how a trick like this backfire might ever,” stated Rasmussen. “GOP primary voters ought to be able to reach their own decision.”Opportunity for All Action Mailer