In Brief

Judge halts spending of group boosting third-party candidates in South Jersey

By: - November 3, 2023 4:11 pm

A state judge has ordered Jersey Freedom, an independent expenditure group Republicans say is Democratic maneuvering, to stop further spending in two South Jersey legislative districts and correct filings. (Getty Images)

A state Superior Court judge has barred an independent expenditure group boosting third-party candidates in the 2nd and 4th Legislative Districts from additional spending in response to a Republican lawsuit that charged it failed to properly disclose its finances.

Judge Michael Blee on Friday ordered the group Jersey Freedom to spend no more money and launch no more ads for Tuesday’s election, but he declined to order existing mailers, television spots, and digital ads be taken down. Republicans have characterized the group’s activity as Democratic maneuvering to siphon votes away from GOP candidates.

“We are pleased that the Court has recognized the Democrats’ egregious violation of the public trust in enjoining future spending. We will keep pursuing this until New Jersey voters get the full transparency that they deserve,” said Alex Wilkes, a spokeswoman for the Republican State Committee, a plaintiff.

The New Jersey Globe first reported the judges’ order.

Jersey Freedom drew attention after launching mailers and ads dinging Chris Del Borrello, a Republican running for a state Senate seat in the 4th district, and boosting third-party candidates there and in the 2nd district.

The group took on $35,226 in debt for a mail campaign promoting Giuseppe Constanzo, an independent in the 4th district who has mounted no noticeable campaign, and Shawn Peck, a Libertarian Party candidate in the 2nd district who dropped out of the race over Jersey Freedom’s support of his candidacy.

Peck remains on the ballot despite his withdrawal, and the New Jersey Libertarian Party has urged voters to cast ballots in his name.

The judge also ordered Jersey Freedom to correct its campaign finance filings. A registration form the group filed failed to include required contact information for its treasurer, Eric Peterson, and Republicans alleged the group had failed to disclose some spending and fundraising in its latest campaign finance filing.

It’s unclear whether the latter allegation holds. Although Jersey Freedom has run ads on Fox News and Meta platforms, those ad runs began after the reporting period’s Oct. 24 cutoff.


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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.