Two candidates for Camden County freeholder have filed a lawsuit after being knocked off the ballot in the June Democratic primary.
The Camden County Clerk’s office refused to certify the petition of Jerome Taylor, Sr. and Jennifer O’Donnell for freeholder after finding signatures on their nominating petitions to be fraudulent.
Taylor withdrew from the race on Sunday and his committee on vacancies named Michael Lovett as the replacement candidate. The clerk’s office has rejected the candidate switch.
The complaint alleges that the decision of deputy county clerk John Schmidt to toss the petitions without proof was punitive.
Taylor and O’Donnell were seeking to challenge two incumbents backed by the Camden County Democratic organization, Edward O’Donnell and Carmen Rodriguez.
The complaint also alleges that Schmidt, county clerk Joseph Ripa and county counsel Christopher Orlando have violated the constitutional rights of the candidates and others who filed nominating petitions in nine towns across Camden County to run for county committee and local office bracketed with the candidates for freeholder.
Also being alleged is that the county clerk ignored a challenge to other petition filed by candidates for the Democratic freeholder nomination.
“The Camden County Clerk’s Office was compelled to reject the petitions in question based on fact that an investigation was done by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and signatures were found to be fraudulently obtained,” said San Keashen, a spokesman for Camden County. “In regard to the lawsuit, it is baseless considering the facts that are already available and the investigation that has already been completed outlining fraudulent actions by the litigant.”