It looks like there is some resume embellishing in the 21st district Assembly race, where attorney Goutam Jois is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against incumbents Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Nancy Munoz (R-Summit).
According to a resume he provided to party officials, Jois says he is the founder of the Ripple of Hope PAC, which “raised thousands of dollars for ‘hard money’” for Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) and ran independent expenditures for Malinowski and Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) and Andy Kim (D-Marlton).
The PAC raised a total of just $6,251 and spent just $417 on Facebook ads for Malinowski, according to reports Jois filed with the Federal Election Commission. Jois supplied party leaders with a copy of the ad.
Malinowski defeated five-term Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton) by 16,200 votes in the 2018 mid-term elections, after spending $6.1 million. It’s not immediately clear how much closer that race might have been if not for Jois’ $417 independent expenditure.
No independent expenditures were reported on behalf of Sherill and Kim, the FEC reports show.
Jois told the New Jersey Globe that expenditures on behalf of Sherrill and Kim were less than the reporting threshold. He said the PAC spent less than $100 on independent expenditures for each of the two Democratic congressional candidates.
The PAC also reports an independent expenditure on behalf of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez: a whopping $235 on Facebook ads.
About 36% of the total PAC revenues ($2,250) went to contributions to Democratic organizations in Summit, Mountainside and Somerset County. Another 15% went to reimburse Jois for expenses.
“When my family and I moved into our new house last year, we wanted to have a housewarming party. In lieu of presents, we asked people to contribute to the PAC,” said Jois. “I’m proud of the work that we did supporting candidates in New Jersey and around the country and will continue to do so as far as I’m able.”
Jois said that none of the expenditures by the PAC “reflects canvassing with my wife and kids for Tom, the other speaking I did on his behalf, or the volunteers from my campaign that I asked to later canvass for him.”
“All of that is a long way of saying, any contention that I ‘sat out’ the general election and was secretly hoping Leonard Lance would have won is simply off the mark,” Jois said.
In a press release announcing the creation of his PAC, Jois says endorsements also went to candidates for governor of Florida, U.S. Senator in North Dakota and state treasurer in Ohio. The FEC reports do not indicate any support for those candidates, although Jois did write a $250 person check to Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota).
He sought the Democratic nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district in 2018 and remained in the race even after Malinowski beat him for organization lines in six counties. Jois finished third with just 14% of the vote – running 53 percentage points behind Malinowski.
Jois reported raising $409,834 for his congressional race, although that number is misleading.
More than 25% of the amount ($117,500) raised came as a loan from Jois, who didn’t spend the money on his campaign and paid himself back after his loss. Another 12% ($49,928) were general election funds that were returned to donors after he lost the primary.
His campaign is still carrying a $17,500 debt.
Several candidates for the Democratic Assembly nomination declined to comment.Goutam Jois Bio