A defamation lawsuit filed by former Sussex County Republican State Committeeman Bill Hayden against Sussex County Democratic leaders was dismissed last month after Hayden missed a court filing deadline.
Hayden, a candidate for Sussex County Commissioner in the upcoming June 7 Republican primary, alleged that that Democrats accused him of being the face of a domestic terror organization, a white supremacist, and a member of the Oath Keepers, the Sons of Liberty and the Proud Boys.
He was objecting a letter to the editor that appeared in the Advertiser News last November.
“Public discourse belongs in the village square, not in the courtroom,” wrote Christina Stripp, an attorney representing Democratic county chair Dawne Rowe and others in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Stripp said Hayden’s lawsuit “is blatantly attempting to stifle open discussion about matters of public importance: the conduct, platforms, and beliefs of those who represent the citizens of our state in election related matters.”
Superior Court Judge William J. McGovern dismissed the complaint on April 29 for Hayden’s “failure to state (his) claim.”
McGovern also issued a warning in another Hayden lawsuit – this one filed against Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) – will be similarly dismissed for lack of prosecution in July.
Hayden is a former president of the Sussex County Tea Party. His name did not appear on a list of Oath Keeper members released last year.
POLITICO first reported the lawsuit.
Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story identified Hayden as a state committeeman. He resigned to run for county commissioner and was replaced by Nicholas D’Agostino.