TOMS RIVER, NJ – When Rik Mehta, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate filed his last Federal Election Commission finance report, it showed he was more than a quarter of a million dollars in debt, mostly to himself and has been unable to raise private campaign funds. Mehta raised just $80,879.46 in personal campaign contributions. In a few days, we’ll be able to see if Mehta has been more successful this quarter, but until then, here’s what we have.
Mehta has announced he wants to sue Governor Phil Murphy and will be seeking financial damages.
“Using COVID as an excuse to push a political agenda is the dirtiest and most despicable game of politics I have ever seen,” Mehta stated. “New Jersey demands an apology for the Governor’s histrionic behaviors that have broken public trust in managing COVID. Murphy needs to pay my campaign damages immediately.”
Two weeks ago, Governor Murphy dismissed Mehta as a nobody who is “unfit for public office” and “out of this world”.
While few of our readers will disagree with Mehta’s assessment of Murphy’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, even fewer will approve of a political candidate suing the state of New Jersey to help recoup his $300,000 personal investment into a flailing campaign. If successful, those damages and legal fees will be paid for by the taxpayers of New Jersey, not Governor Phil Murphy personally.
Mehta would have to prove damages. His campaign raised only $80,000 and as of July, had a net worth of nearly -$500,000 after employees claimed they didn’t get paid and vendors weren’t being paid.
Atilis Gym, Murphy’s campaign headquarters is also under assault from Murphy’s administration. Yesterday, gym owner Ian Smith announced the state has begun seizing assets to pay a $500,000 fine imposed by the administration for violating COVID-19 health regulations.
Mehta blamed Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal for his continued inability to raise campaign funds.
“The Governor and the AG know that the former gym owners are members of my finance committee and are holding daily volunteer recruitment events,” stated Mehta. “His continued attacks on Atilis gym and wanton disregard for my campaign site has impacted our ability to conduct fundraising activities.”
In reality, Mehta doesn’t have the total party backing or personal wealth of his predecessor Bob Hugin to successfully compete against Cory Booker. At this time two years ago, Republican organizations statewide held large, lavish fundraisers for Hugin. Party chairman were openly endorsing, supporting and raising money for the U.S. Senate seat the felt was in play. This year, few donors are willing to open their wallets to a candidate so far in debt, knowing that he also has to pay himself back a $300,000 loan before the first mailer or commercial is produced. Wealthy GOP donors have far better ways to throw away their money and have instead invested in local, county and congressional races statewide.