Incumbent state Sen. Joe Kyrillos is being challenged by Union Beach’s Leigh-Ann Bellew, a self-described strong fiscal and social conservative who appears ready to pounce on the GOP lawmaker who she’s dubbed in an interview as a “liberal Republican.”
But as the primary approaches, murmurs have increased that Bellew – or those around her – may have overstated her credentials throughout her years as a candidate and campaign staffer.
Bellew, who was the GOP nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, has described herself on a social networking site as having come from “a professional background with advanced degrees in political science and law.”
Similarly, in a post on the Bayshore Tea Party Blog, an attendee of one of Bellew’s Constitution courses describes the candidate as having “formal education in law,” including Constitutional law. In a recent interview with the conservative news site Save Jersey, Bellew said her “post-collegiate education” “focused on history and constitutional law.”
And she’s even been quoted by news outlets as an attorney. The conservative news website WorldNetDaily referred to Bellew as “an attorney” when she was quoted in a January 2011 story on a lawsuit involving Christian homeschooling parents.
However, Bellew’s biography on her campaign website makes no mention of the candidate having a degree in law. Her Linked In profile lists Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communications and History while other bios found list a Master of Science Degree in Political Science from the University of North Texas. UNT does not offer a law degree.
When the campaign was asked directly whether Bellew has a law degree a spokesperson declined to comment.
“The campaign will have a press release tomorrow,” spokesman Dwayne Horner said in an e-mail. “Without the specific news stories you reference in your e-mail, I cannot address them directly.”
When sent the direct references, Horner responded only with a press release challenging Kyrillos to a debate. Asked a third time for an answer, Horner did not respond.
Horner also was asked about a documentary that Bellew says she produced and directed entitled “Power Through Pain.”
Bellew listed the documentary as one of her accomplishments on a 2006 questionnaire when she was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and said the documentary resulted in a “national speaking tour.”
“This documentary was later featured on national television and used by many crisis pregnancy centers as an encouraging guide to help other young women go beyond the crisis and come through stronger and with greater self-esteem. Through the distribution of “Power through Pain” Leigh-Ann began a national speaking tour…” the bio on Vote-NJ.org reads.
However internet searches and searches of the Internet Movie Database produce no evidence of a documentary by that name. Horner did not respond to a request for more information on the documentary.
Calls to Bellew herself were not returned.