In circumstances that are unusual but permissible, a federal prosecutor who works for the office that wiretapped George Norcross’ phones is among a group of progressive activists challenging the Camden County Democratic machine in the June 4 primary election.
Judith Amorosa, an assistant U.S. Attorney with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is a candidate for Democratic County Committee in Cherry Hill in the upcoming primary.
She was the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed yesterday seeking to overturn the Camden County Clerk’s ruling that rejected nominating petitions for two freeholder candidates challenging Democratic incumbents in the primary.
Amorosa is also the registered agent for the “Democrats of Camden County” slogan that most anti-organization candidates are running on and signed a letter to county clerk Joseph Ripa authorizing certain candidates to use the slogan.
POLITICO reported last year that U.S. District Court Judge Paul Diamond authorized a wiretap of Norcross, a longtime Democratic powerhouse, between July 28, 2016 and November 16, 2016 at the request of the Eastern District.
Michael Critchley, an attorney for Norcross, told the New Jersey Globe in October 2018 that the Eastern District confirmed that Norcross was not the target of any investigation and was not the focus of any ongoing investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of New Jersey released a letter, obtained by the Globe, clearing Norcross in connection with their probe of the procurement of tax credits.
Amorosa, a prosecutor since 2011, works only on civil cases for the Justice Department and is not involved on the criminal prosecution side.
The Department of Justice allows some federal prosecutors to be actively involved in partisan politics, if it’s done on their own time and does not conflict with their office. While all employees are subject to the Hatch Act, the DOJ classifies their employees into “less restricted” and “further restricted” categories.
Further restricted employees are held to stricter rules that prohibit involvement in political campaigns, even during off-hours. Those with the less restricted status are permitted to hold office in political parties and volunteer to work on partisan political campaigns.
Amorosa is classified as “less restricted” and there is no indication that she has violated any of the Justice Department guidelines.
More than 100 candidates filed petitions to challenge the Camden Democratic organization in the June primary, seeking the offices of State Assembly, freeholder, county clerk, municipal office and county committee.
Amorosa is one of six candidates running for county committee in Cherry Hill. She was also actively involved in recruiting candidates to run against the county organization slate, according to one candidate who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Michele Mucellin, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said on Thursday that she was seeking guidance from Washington on guidelines for political activity by federal prosecutors. At press time, she has not yet responded.
According to her LinkedIn page, Amorosa joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in June 2011 after spending nearly five years as an associate with Alston & Bird. She served as a law clerk to New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto.
Last month, Amorosa posted on her personal Facebook page – also allowed under DOJ guidelines – that aides to Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden), Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Voorhees) and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Cherry Hill) showed up at an organizing meeting of “an opposition group planning to run against them in the Democratic primary.”
“The Norcross staffers refused to leave the opposition group’s meeting after being asked and implored to do so. The press has been notified of this situation,” said Amorosa in a post aimed at the public officials. “The opposition group preparing to run against you in the Dem primary does not wish to be surveilled, disrupted or intimidated while it organizes to run against you in the election.”
Reached by the New Jersey Globe, Amorosa declined to comment.Democrats of Camden County bracketing requests April 2019
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