Phil Rizzo, the grifter who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for governor in 2021 and Congress in 2022, appeared in small claims court on Monday morning to seek an extension in a lawsuit filed against him by the Morris County Republican Committee for failing to pay them a $1,500 fee to set up a table last March.
Superior Court Judge David J. Weaver granted Rizzo a two week extension after the failed candidate said he wanted to get a lawyer after struggling with the judiciary’s technology.
“In political world, there’s a lot of attorneys that have a conflict out of a case like that. And so when I had registered, I figured I might be able to handle it on my own. It’s pretty simple situation here,” Rizzo said. “And when I realized all the digital uploading of files and things, I know that I need an attorney for something like this.”
Joseph Bell IV, the attorney represented the Morris Republicans, had opposed Rizzo’s request “not only because the 11th hour nature of this.”
“I mean, this this has been a case that’s been scheduled for months that have availed itself of that opportunity quite some time ago, said Bell. The lawsuit was filed in August.
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. 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.
Laucik did not appear in court today.
Weaver’s decision to delay the lawsuit until November 14 means the Morris GOP will not have use of the $1,500 for the November 8 general election.
Rizzo faced heavy criticism for selling his Harding home to the City Baptist Church, a tiny, now-defunct storefront church in North Bergen where he had been the pastor, for $1.65 million. The move allowed Rizzo to live there without paying property taxes.
In May, the Morris County Board of Taxation revoked Rizzo’s tax-exempt status. He has since sold the home and moved to Somerset County.
Rizzo received 25.6% of the vote in the gubernatorial primary, losing to Jack Ciattarelli by 24 percentage points. In the June primary for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district, he received just 23.6% and lost to Tom Kean, Jr. by 22 points.