Candidate Gorman outs self as impersonator
The 2016 race for two Sussex County Freeholder seats has proved to be the strangest and most dysfunctional in memory. Yesterday evening took a new turn, when an email blast purportedly from "Watchdog" turned out to have been signed by Freeholder candidate Kathy Gorman. The blast also contained a false address -- either that or the Sussex County candidate has moved south from Wantage, New Jersey, to New Hope, Pennsylvania.
So now we know who at least one of the figures are behind those fictitious email blasts that claim to be coming from us. The longer-term problem for candidate Gorman is that it looks like at least one of those blasts broke the law.
On Tuesday, March 30, 2016, an email carrying the same identifiers as the one signed by Kathy Gorman was published and distributed -- claiming to be from Freeholder George Graham. George Graham did not send this email. The email was designed to harm Freeholder Graham's candidacy, did not include a disclaimer, and a fake address was listed.
New Jersey law prohibits the impersonation of a candidate:
NJSA 19:34-66. Knowing production, transmittal or dissemination of mass communication which appears to originate from or be on behalf of campaign of candidate for purpose of impeding campaign
No person shall knowingly produce, transmit or disseminate any election advertisement, literature or other mass communication in any medium, including but not limited to newspapers, magazines, printed circulars, television, radio, movies, telephone, telegraph, billboards and signs, which purports to or appears to originate from, or be on behalf of, the campaign of a candidate for public office or party position, for the purpose of impeding the campaign of such candidate while failing to reveal specifically in such communication that he is acting under the instructions of, or on behalf of, another candidate or such other candidate's paid or volunteer campaign staff; provided, however, that this section shall not apply to any owner, manager, editor, publisher, reporter or employee of any newspaper, magazine, periodical or other publication or of any radio or television station who, in the course of his duties, publishes or broadcasts any such advertisement, literature or mass communication.
L.1975, c. 190, s. 3, eff. Aug. 16, 1975.
This could be a very serious matter for candidate Gorman. This email actually used Graham's identity so that it appeared as if it had been sent from him. Two recent cases, one involving a campaign in Passaic County, the other a campaign in Monmouth County, illustrate the pitfalls of hijacking a candidate's identity.
Man pleads guilty to deceptive phone calls (The Record, February 21, 2012)
Prosecutors: 4 A.M. Robocalls In NJ Senate Race Were Placed By Rival Campaign (CBS, New York, August 12, 2014)
Will there be another guilty plea? Stay tuned. . .