Shadowy perennial candidate Lisa McCormick could be forced to answer allegations that she created fake websites, counterfeit email accounts and phony identities in her Democratic primary challenge to Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) in court.
“Make no mistake, your improper conduct and disgusting tactics will not be countenanced, and any attempts to interfere with the rights of the voting public will be met with swift action, Watson Coleman,” wrote campaign counsel Raj Parikh in a letter to McCormick and her life partner, James Devine, a controversial former political consultant, obtained by the New Jersey Globe.
Watson Coleman has already called out McCormick for sending out an email using the congresswoman’s campaign logo and showing the sender at BWC Updates in an attempt to make it look like it was the incumbent’ press release.
Last month, Watson Coleman asked law enforcement to investigate anti-Semitic emails falsely made to look as though they came from her campaign.
One of McCormick’s tactics is to portray Watson Coleman as a Trump collaborator, despite a voting record and history of statements that easily demonstrate that opposite to be true.
“Fake virtual personas created by you transmit false and defamatory information to the public, stylized as grassroots advocacy,” Parikh told McCormick. “Public reports indicate that you have done this before.”
By sending the letter, Parikh put McCormick and Devine on notice that they must “maintain all documents, communications and information that may be relevant to future legal proceedings” – a move typically made in preparation for a civil lawsuit.
That means McCormick and Devine may not delete anything from their computers, including cell phone records, text messages and internet search history.
McCormick filed nominating petitions to challenge Watson Coleman in New Jersey’s 12th district in March, but still has not filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. All candidates are required to do at least that, regardless of how much money they raise.
Candidates are also required to include a disclaimer on all campaign-related materials to create transparency on who paid for the messaging. Communications reviewed by the Globe do not include the legally required “paid for” disclaimers.
“Unfortunately, retaining counsel experienced in handling fraudulent campaign tactics was a necessary step for us to take in advance of Tuesday’s Primary Election,” said Sean Darcy, a consultant for the Watson Coleman campaign. “We have come across a number of voters purposefully deceived by our opponent and her campaign manager’s Trump-style tactics, so we felt it important to have legal guidance to make sure they don’t attempt to steal Tuesday’s election.”
Darcy noted that McCormick and Devine have a history of using “deceitful and nefarious practices in attempting to mislead voters.”
“Time and again, they have shown a willingness and capacity to push legal boundaries past the limits and ignore the consequences,” Darcy said. “In this campaign alone, they have refused to file any of the required paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, including who provides contributions to the campaign.”
Many of the attacks on Watson Coleman have been posted on a reputationally-challenged news site that lists McCormick as the publisher and shows her campaign as the principal advertiser.
Darcy made it clear that Watson Coleman, a former Assembly Majority Leader and New Jersey Democratic State Chair, isn’t about to let McCormick get away with a trick-laden campaign – her third in as many years.
“Representative Watson Coleman has stood up for herself her entire career and has never run from a fight in her life, so we certainly don’t plan on allowing people acting like they’re hiding in the bunker of the White House to try and steal this election,” stated Darcy. “Tuesday is simply too important.”