Claiming to have nailed down the likely identity of someone who pretended to be him in email correspondence at the height of the Republican Primary, State GOP Chairman Tom Wilson today sent out a message to Republicans fingering a key supporter of Senate candidate Murray Sabrin.
"Efforts to trace the source of the emails were hampered by the inability of the Internet service providers to provide the details necessary," Wilson told Republicans in his email message sent today.
"However, the account was re-opened at some later point and was successfully traced to the former residence of Patrick Donohue, who owns Max Consulting in New York City," Wilson said of the early April transmissions.
Max Consulting is listed on Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports as having received more than $123,000 from the underdog campaign of Sabrin, who confirmed Donohue was the campaign’s fund-raiser.
Donohue, a former George Pataki fund-raiser, was subpoenaed by a grand jury concerning his role as director of the Friends of Pataki committee. Court papers named him as an unindicted co-conspirator in a pay-for-parole deal.
Wilson called out Sabrin directly.
"As much of a critic as he is, this is dirty tricks politics for a guy who claims to be a maverick reformer," the State Party Chair told PolitickerNJ.com.
"It’s not me he needs to apologize to," Wilson added. "It’s party chairs accused by the Sabrin campaign of all things because they disagreed with his view that he was the best candidate to put forward. When they (the Sabrin campaign) failed to achieve support from leadership, they attempted to malign and degrade hard-working party members who are trying to elect Republicans."
"I’m not going to give any comment on this," said former Sabrin spokesman George Ajjan.
Donohue did not return a phone call, while Sabrin said he knew nothing of the phoney email flare-up.
"All I know is we sent out press releases criticizing county chairs," said the former U.S. Senate candidate. "No one asked for retractions there were no inaccurate statements. If there were we certainly would have corrected them."
While insisting he did not know of Donohue’s or anyone else’s attempts to mimic Wilson, Sabrin did say, "I was told by a reliable source a month ago that Tom Wilson begged (eventual party nominee) Dick Zimmer to come into the race after everyone told him what a joke Andy Unanue was."
Wilson had originally given the anonymous sender of the emails an opportunity to step forward and identify him or herself. When that didn’t happen, he moved ahead with an investigation.
After tracking down the cooked up email account, "When the investigators went to interview Mr. Donohue, they reported finding copies of Sabrin campaign material all over his desk and office," Wilson wrote to his supporters today.
"They informed him why they were there and after some uncomfortable exchanges, Mr. Donohue indicated that he would exercise his right to have an attorney present and that he would have his attorney contact the investigators," Wilson explained. "Mr. Donohue's attorney’s never did so."
In the dummy email correspondences, "Wilson" asks someone identified as Paul Reed about Sabrin opponent and then-establishment U.S. Senate choice Andy Unanue. "Wilson" repeatedly voices concerns about what the email sender wanted to highlight as character flaws in the candidate.
"Paul, great quote today – do you have any concerns about Andy’s ‘playboy’ reputation or his family litigation? If not, what issues/concerns do you have?" wrote the person trying to give the impression he was Wilson.
The state chair does not feel confident about gathering the evidence the party would need to pursue prosecution.
"While all we have circumstantial evidence, I think it's hard to believe that it's pure coincidence that the person responsible for this just happened to move into Mr. Donohue's residence," Wilson said. "Of course, we do not know if Mr. Sabrin or anyone else on the staff was aware of Mr. Donohue's actions."