Judge rejects bid to force progressives to pay legal fees on petition challenge

By David WildsteinJune 17 2020

New Jersey Globe

New Jersey Working Families State Director Sue Altman

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A Superior Court Judge today rejected a bid by four county clerks and the Camden County Democratic Organization to recover legal fees they spent defending a lawsuit filed by progressives trying to get on the ballot in some South Jersey counties.

Sue Altman, the New Jersey Working Families state director, said that decision by Judge Mary Jacobson “sends a message that these types of tactics won’t hold up in court.”

“These proceedings will undoubtedly inspire more candidates to run for office, so that we can, once and for all, ensure there is opportunity for anyone seeking to get involved in the political process in South Jersey,” Altman said. “It’s a tragedy we even need to state this as an aspiration, but it is clear times are changing in New Jersey and today was a win for democracy and the progressive movement.

Progressive-backed candidates in Camden, Cape May, Cumberland and Gloucester counties failed to qualify for a place on the July 7 Democratic primary ballot after county clerks found that they didn’t submit enough valid signatures on their nominating petitions.

“Today’s ruling is a resounding victory for ordinary citizens who, for too long, have been shut out of local politics by George Norcross’ political machine and its heavy-handed tactics,” said Altman. “Norcross’ political allies, including his personal attorney Bill Tambussi (previously Donald Trump’s attorney) went into today’s hearing trying to send a message that anyone daring to run against the machine could be liable for six-figure damages.”

Tambussi had accused the lawyer for the progressives,  Flavio Komuves, “repeatedly represented to the Court that he has in his possession ‘time stamped documentary evidence’ with underlying meta data that supports the strongly worded allegations … that certain elected and appointed officials ‘botched’ the nomination petition filing process.”

According to Tambussi, Komuves didn’t produce “a single document in support of the allegations.”

In his letter to the court dismissing the lawsuit  one day before depositions of two witnesses were to begin,  Komuves had attributed the dismissal to his “inability to obtain the electronic discovery materials from Google.”

“New Jersey Working Families and our allies refuse to be intimidated by these tactics. This extraordinary effort led by Tambussi and his colleagues to seek revenge against those daring to run for office was advanced by lawyers and paid for by South Jersey taxpayers and designed to chill political activity,” Altman said.  “But we will not back down — not today, not ever.”

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