In a last minute pre-election day surprise, the independent candidate in South Jersey’s third congressional district is charging one of his opponents, Republican Tom MacArthur, with voter fraud.
On Friday, Frederick John LaVergne, of the Democratic-Republican party, filed an affidavit with the Municipal Court of Toms River alleging that MacArthur lied about his residency status and illegally cast a vote in the district’s primary election earlier this year. LaVergne says that MacArthur, a former Randolph mayor who bought an apartment in Toms River after deciding to run for the district’s congressional seat last year, has “never in fact moved in” to the residence.
From the complaint:
“A preliminary review of mortgage documents on file with the Ocean County Clerk’s Office indicate that this third property may have been purchased by Defendant MacArthur representing that [the unit] was not to be his primary residence. In any event, Defendant MacArthur never in fact moved into [the unit] and in fact does not live in, reside at, and is not domiciled at [the unit] but rather remains living at his mansion [in Randolph].”
In addition to the apartment in Toms River, Macarthur owns a home in Randolph, where his wife and daughter still live, as well as a beach house in Barnegat Light.
But according to LaVergne, who said he “for months… routinely checked and knocked on the door” at the Toms River apartment without answer, MacArthur never moved from his main home, despite casting a vote in June’s primary election in CD3 against former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan.
“He didn’t need to live in the district to run in the district, but Tom MacArthur will lie when the truth will do,” LaVergne told PolitickerNJ about the complaint.
According to New Jersey elections law, a voter must reside in the town or district in which a race is taking place in order to cast a vote in the election of that race. (The same violation LaVergne is accusing MacArthur of led a Middlesex County judge to be charged with improperly voting in March after he allegedly voted in Woodbridge while living in Chatham, and in North Jersey’s fifth congressional district, U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5) has charged his own opponent, Democrat Roy Cho, with voter fraud for inappropriately casting a vote in Manalapan in November 2012.)
In a statement, MacArthur spokesperson Chris Russell dismissed the complaint, calling it “absurd” and blasting LaVergne for waiting until the final days of the race to quietly file the charge.
“Just like Mr. LaVergne’s offensive and despicable attacks on Tom and Debbie’s charitable efforts, in memory of their late daughter and on behalf of disabled people around the world, this frivolous charge is completely absurd and without merit,” Russell said, referring to comments LaVergne made at candidate’s debate in Ocean County last month where accused the Republican of lying about donating thousands of wheelchairs to charity. “Voters have already dismissed LaVergne’s poor excuse for a campaign, and this completely unsubstantiated, 11th hour smear will be dismissed, as well. Mr. LaVergne’s 15 minutes are almost up.”
LaVergne and MacArthur are vying for the CD3 seat along with Democrat and Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard.