The New Jersey Democratic State Committee filed a lawsuit today against shadowy perennial candidate Lisa McCormick and her controversial life partner, James Devine, over a mailer and associated website inaccurately purporting to represent the state Democratic Party.
Several days ago, a number of voters in Roselle received one of two different mailers endorsing Gov. Phil Murphy, Lieutenant Gov. Sheila Oliver, and three school board members: Gisselle Bond, Yessica Chavez, and France Cortez. Under state law, school board candidates and members cannot be officially associated with a political party.
Both mailers claimed to be paid for by the New Jersey Democratic Party – “NJDEMS.COM” – but the lawsuit alleges that such a claim is fraudulent. NJDems.com, while legitimate-sounding, is not the official website for the NJDSC; their address is instead NJDems.org.
A visit to NJDems.com redirects to LisaMcCormick.org, a website filled almost entirely with dummy text. At no point does the current version of the website pretend to be the state Democratic Party, but as recently as 2020, the website was calling itself “New Jersey’s Online Democratic Party Connection.”
Among other things, the NJDSC lawsuit demands that NJDems.com, which the lawsuit says was intentionally crafted to be misleading, be barred from publishing any content that claims affiliation with the NJDSC, and that McCormick and Devine cease sending any and all deceptive political flyers.
“In creating and distributing the intentionally misleading and fraudulent mailing [the mailer] Defendants acted in concert to willfully, maliciously, and unlawfully confuse and deceive voters,” the suit alleges. “These malicious acts have caused harm to Plaintiff and the voters of New Jersey … and will continue to cause immediate and irreparable harm to Plaintiff and the voters of New Jersey unless Defendants are enjoined and permanently prohibited from distributing further fraudulent and misleading communications.”
The controversy over the mailers and website is far from the first time McCormick and Devine have found themselves embroiled in an election-related legal battle; in fact, it isn’t even the first time it’s happened this year.
McCormick, who has run several failed campaigns for public office, filed to challenge Gov. Phil Murphy in this year’s Democratic primary. But after her petition signatures were challenged, it was discovered that every single signature she submitted – all 1,932 of them – were likely fraudulent, with several coming from deceased voters and one coming from a voter apparently named “First Name Middle Name Last Name.”
An administrative law judge found that all of the signatures were fraudulent and Secretary of State Tahesha Way made a criminal referral to the state attorney general’s office.
McCormick’s previous campaign, against Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing), did successfully land her on the ballot. But her campaign tactics upon making it to the ballot were equally underhanded, among them sending emails from the fraudulent address “email@example.com” telling voters, “Don’t buy from Jews.”
Both McCormick and Devine, who shares an address with McCormick and is likely her long-term partner, have a history of campaign finance foibles and other remarkable political tactics that date back to at least 2005.
A letter brief from Raj Parikh, counsel to the state party, argues that McCormick’s and Devine’s long history of inappropriate campaign conduct shows that this most recent case is part of a clear pattern.
“In light of Devine and McCormick’s more than fifteen-year history of unscrupulous, deceptive, and unethical practices in connection with elections in this state … there is simply no argument to be made that Devine and McCormick were not fully aware of their blatant campaign violations in this instance,” he wrote.
The state Attorney General’s office told the New Jersey Globe that they had “nothing to share at this time” on the status of a possible probe into McCormick and Devine.