When Ian Smith shows you who he is, believe him the first time.

That's the message from his victim's family, still raw more than a decade after Smith — now a conservative hero and candidate — killed college student Kevin Ade in a drunk driving crash.

Smith made headlines this week after he was arrested in a new drunk-driving case in Cinnaminson early Sunday morning.

The candidate in the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary and co-owner of the Atilis Gym in Belmawr, which defied Gov. Phil Murphy's 2020 pandemic mandate keeping gyms closed, was stopped around 12:25 a.m. in the parking lot of the Pandora Diner on Route 130.

He was taken to police headquarters and also charged with reckless driving, careless driving and refusing to consent to a breathalyzer test, among other offenses.

Smith was charged in 2007 with causing the death of the Atlantic County College student. He was also charged with possession of marijuana. He pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide and was sentenced in 2008 to five years and six months in prison with three years of supervised release.

"I can't say it's very surprising. Last time when everything was coming to light, in my family's mind, he didn't really accept any responsibility for had happened in the past to Kevin that he did," Ade's cousin, Jimmy Connelly, told New Jersey 101.5 on Thursday. "If he'd learned his lesson and said 'I was drunk I was wrong' but he didn't. He said he was a victim of misinformation."

Connelly brought the crash to the media's attention when Smith was in the national spotlight during his defiance of Murphy's mandates.

Smith protesting his innocence

Smith and campaign consultant Steven Kush say he passed the field sobriety test. Smith said he refused a breathalyzer, which state law requires that motorists submit to on request of a police officer, because of his distrust of government and Murphy's "hate" for him.

Kevin Ade
Kevin Ade (Jimmy Connolly)
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Smith said Wednesday on his Instagram page that he is not bashing police, placing blame on anyone else or asking anyone to feel bad for him.

“Right or wrong these were choices that I made. No matter what the outcome of court I will handle it accordingly. We only move forward from here,” Smith's statement says.

Connelly, however, said that if Smith were innocent he would have had no problem submitting to a breathalyzer test and thinks it's "preposterous" that police would tamper with the test. Under New Jersey law, refusal to take the test is an admission of guilt.

"He was trying to hide something. Thankfully his ignorance of the law — which he had plenty of time to study up on with that free law library for a few years — came through," Connelly said referring to the time Smith spent incarcerated.

Ian Smith (L) and political consultant Steve Kush
Ian Smith (L) and political consultant Steve Kush hold Smith's FEC paperwork (Steve Kush)
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'They just see what the national news media has regurgitated about him being a martyr and someone standing up for our rights.'

The 'real Ian Smith'

Connelly said he hopes the arrest will reveal the real Smith, especially to Republican voters in the 3rd Congressional District. He believes that most of Smith's support comes from people outside the district and who are unaware of Smith's past.

"Hopefully people will see now that he's not who he says he is  He doesn't deserve, at least in my mind, to run for any type of public position and have the support of people who aren't from this area and don't know the news. They just see what the national news media has regurgitated about him being a martyr and someone standing up for our rights," Connelly said.

Connelly said he has not been approached by any of Smith's opponents in the primary to talk about Kevin Ade but would be happy to have the conversation.

"I'd be more than willing to. Anytime I can be Kevin's voice I usually don't shy away from it. It's the one thing I am obliged to continue," Connelly said.

Ade's memory also lives on with the Kevin Aaron Ade Memorial Scholarship, which is administered by the Community Foundation of New Jersey.

Smith is due in court on April 14, according to Cinnaminson police Chief Richard Calabrese. His department has not yet released video of Smith's police stop and arrest, which New Jersey 101.5 has requested.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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