Home>Campaigns>Morris GOP files lawsuit against Rizzo for non-payment of convention table fee

GOP congressional candidate Phil Rizzo. (Photo: Phil Rizzo).

Morris GOP files lawsuit against Rizzo for non-payment of convention table fee

Republicans allege Rizzo campaign aide lied about paying invoice prior to March convention

By David Wildstein, August 25 2022 1:45 pm

Morris County Republicans are suing Phil Rizzo for failing to pay a $1,500 fee to set up a table at their county convention in March, when he was seeking the organization line in his run for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district.

In their lawsuit, the Morris GOP alleges that Rizzo’s political director, Daniel Laucik Jr., agreed to pay for a table inside the convention room to distribute literature, display their signage and have “home base” during the convention.

“Staff members for your team claimed to have paid for the sponsorship at the door on the convention, showing our volunteers an online donation that was not yet submitted,” Morris GOP executive director Anthony DiSpirito wrote in a letter to the Rizzo campaign that is now part of the court filings.  “Given your payment delinquency, it is now clear to us that this was not a mistake, but an intentional and successful attempt to mislead our volunteer and organization.”

Court records show that the Rizzo campaign had produced a copy of an online contribution for $1,500, but never hit submit on the payment platform.

“Upon entry, Mr. Laucik, acting as a campaign representatives, showed our staff a picture of a donation to our organization that was not yet submitted in a successful attempt to mislead the staffer int thinking the donation as been made,” Republicans allege in their court filing.

Morris Republicans charge that Rizzo and his staff lied about their payment in a deliberate attempt to inure the benefits of a table without having to pay for it.

“This type of behavior has no place in our party, especially when dealing with an organization that relies heavily on the generosity of donors and efforst of volunteers,” DeSpirito said.

An email from Laucik in court filings show an agreement to pay.

“We would love a table,” Laucik wrote.  “How do we pay?”

Laucik declined comment during a short call with the New Jersey Globe.

In an email, Rizzo himself appears to have acknowledged the payment requirement.

“I will connect you with my convention team,” Rizzo said.  “They will take care of all those details.”

Even with a table they had not paid for, Rizzo was only able to muster a fourth place finish among Republicans in his home county.

On the first ballot, former Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. led newcomer John Henry Isemann by 12 votes, 48 to 36.  Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin) came in third with 23 votes, with just 20 delegates (15.7%) casting their ballots for Rizzo.

In the June primary, Rizzo won 23.6% of the vote against Kean.

This was Rizzo’s second loss.  He received 25.7% of the vote in his 2021 campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show that other congressional candidates seeking party support in the 7th and 11th districts paid for tables.

Republicans claim they have reached out to Rizzo and Laucik with “no resolution.”

Superior Court Judge Daniel Weaver has scheduled a trial in small claims court on October 31.

Morris Republicans are seeking $1,500 in legal fees and court costs as part of their demand.  They are represented by Joseph J. Bell IV.

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