📑 NJ Democratic campaign manager faces election fraud charges

🗳 Man is accused of submitting nearly 2,000 fake names supporting candidate

❗ James Devine previously was criticized for social media call to ‘hunt Republicans’

TRENTON — A Democratic campaign manager who once tweeted support for people to “hunt" Republicans has been hit with election fraud charges, stemming from accusations of filing phony petitions.

James Devine has been accused of submitting nearly 2,000 made-up names to try and get Lisa McCormick, gubernatorial candidate and his life partner, on the 2021 ballot for the Democratic primary.

The 61-year-old Lambertville resident has been charged with third-degree counts of offenses concerning nomination certificates or petitions and tampering with public records or information.

He also was facing fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records.

Devine appeared to address the allegations on Twitter.

“My political adversaries pounced on a mistake because they want to intimidate anyone with the temerity to challenge this incredibly corrupt system & I have been a pain in the ass to powerful people. I hope this does not stop people from participating in American democracy,” he said in a tweet on April 28.

Dead person, ‘Jose8’ among suspicious petitions submitted by Devine

The suspect petitions were filed around April 5, 2021. A written challenge by the Democratic State Committee was filed days later, ahead of the June 8, 2021 Democratic primary.

The challenge listed numerous issues with the digital petitions submitted by McCormick’s campaign, including:

❎ A person by the name of “First Name Middle Name Last Name,” who lives at “Address, City, State Zipcode.”

❎ Someone who spelled and signed their name as “Jose8.”

❎ A Seton Hall law professor who died in 2015 (according to NJDSC attorney Raj Parikh)

❎ Every single voter certification used the same fonts and signature style

In nearly every digital petition, the same number of extra spaces appeared between the city name and “NJ” in the address line.

The state Division of Elections found that as proof that a computer program likely had filled out the forms in an identical manner.

McCormick was removed from the ballot, in an April 13, 2021 decision issued by Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Rabin, citing those irregularities.

Investigators with the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability interviewed multiple people whose names were on the petitions submitted by Devine as campaign manager.

Those individuals said they had not filled out a petition or authorized one in support of candidate McCormick.

Devine admitted multiple times to detectives that he had uploaded wrong voter information onto petition forms, according to Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

“At a moment in our history when American democracy is facing some of its most formidable challenges from false claims about elections and questions about election integrity, my office will not tolerate any sort of fraud that attempts to deceptively and unfairly benefit a candidate or undermine free and fair elections in New Jersey,” Platkin said in a written statement.

If convicted of any third-degree offenses, Devine could face a prison sentence of three to five years and a $15,000 fine. Conviction of a fourth-degree offense could lead to up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Devine appeared to support a ‘hunt’ of Republicans in 2017

In 2017, Devine posted several messages on Facebook and Twitter following the shooting of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and several others in a Virginia suburb of Washington D.C.

“I have little sympathy for the Republican Congressman who got shot today because he viciously opposed President Obama's effort to reduce gun violence and instead, he accepted more gun lobby money than all but 15 other members of the House of Representatives," Devine had said on Facebook.

Devine previously told New Jersey 101.5 that his comments were meant to shock but not advocate violence, saying "It is insensitive and I don’t care. You want me to be politically correct? I don’t have time for that anymore.”

A request for comment on the election fraud charges was not immediately answered by Devine on Tuesday.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

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