A Republican congressional candidate in New Jersey’s 3rd district was arrested on charges that he was driving under the influence early Sunday morning after refusing to take a breathalyzer test.
Ian A. Smith, the owner of the Atlis Gym and an outspoken critic of Gov. Phil Murphy, is running for the GOP nod to take on Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) in the fall.
Cinnaminson police officer Harry Cicale issued six summonses to Smith, including reckless and careless driving, after stopping the Republican House candidate on Route 130 North near Andover Road.
A campaign spokesman, Steve Kush, said Smith’s truck swerved in high winds and that he passed a field sobriety test.
“The cop wasn’t satisfied and put cuffs on him,” Kush said. “Ian will have his day in court. Everyone will find out Ian wasn’t drunk driving.”
Smith is scheduled to appear in Cinnaminson Municipal Court on April 14.
Kush said Smith refused the breathalyzer test out of fear that Cicale, a former standout Cinnaminson High School baseball player, might be trying to set him up.
“Ian doesn’t have much trust of the government after the persecution he’s received by the governor over the last two years,” Kush stated.
Smith attracted national prominence for refusing to follow Murphy’s business closures and mask mandates during early months of the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the public face of opposition to Murphy’s mandate to close fitness centers in March 2020, reopening his business in May 2020 in defiance of the state before Department of Health officials shut it down.
He became politically active, calling Murphy a “slimeball” and building a social media presence around his opposition to the governor’s handling of COVID-19.
Later, Smith’s gym offered free memberships to people who refused to be vaccinated.
But the long wait—and Smith’s guilty plea to vehicular homicide nearly fifteen years ago—could imperil Smith’s primary bid against the candidate backed by Republican organizations in Burlington, Mercer and Monmouth counties, businessman Robert Healey, Jr.
When he was 20-years-old, Smith was responsible for a car crash that killed 19-year-old Kevin Ade of Galloway. Smith had rolled through a stop sign and slammed into the driver’s side door of Ade’s car, turning it onto its side and pushing it until the vehicle hit a tree. Ade was pronounced dead at the scene.
Since his release from prison, Smith has accepted responsibility for Ade’s death.
“I would trust Ian Smith to drive my mother to a doctor appointment,” Kush said.
Smith will be represented by attorney Christopher St. John, a former deputy attorney general, assistant Camden County prosecutor, and U.S. Army JAG Corps captain.
Congressional redistricting removed the Republican stronghold of Ocean County from the 3rd district, replacing it with more of Burlington, Hamilton, Lawrence, East Windsor and Robbinsville in Mercer, and part of western Monmouth County.
The charges against Smith were first reported by the South Jersey Times.