by Kevin Elliker

Charles Dudley Warner wrote, “Politics make strange bedfellows.” When a candidate who violated campaign finance laws is joined in a lawsuit by the agency in charge of enforcing against such violations, politics must be involved.

In November, I wrote about the debacle in the Republican primary election for freeholder in Morris County, New Jersey.  At that time, a Superior Court judge overturned 23-year-old Hank Lyon’s 6-vote victory over incumbent Margaret Nordstrom in the June primary election. Judge Weisenbeck found that Lyon violated New Jersey campaign finance laws when he failed to submit certain donations and expenditures to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), and voided the primary election in favor of a party convention to choose the nominee. The convention selected Nordstrom, who went on to victory in the November general election before Lyon’s appeal could be heard.

Just prior to the election, the Appellate Division granted ELEC permission to intervene as a respondent to the lawsuit. (Non-lawyers: this means the court allowed ELEC to join the pre-existing lawsuit as a party that can claim an interest in the case which will not undermine the original suit). ELEC argued that Judge Weisenbeck overstepped his jurisdiction and that the agency should resolve election disputes such as this. Continue reading