by Phil Stilton
EAST ORANGE-ABC News this morning has reported that powerful North Jersey Democrat Party Chairman LeRoy Jones is being charged for assaulting a partially blind U.S. army war veteran after a political exchange between the two men. The assault was caught on video. In the video, Jones can be seen sucker punching the disabled veteran.
Jones, who also heads the influential New Jersey political lobbying firm 1868 Public Affairs is being charged with a misdemeanor, but 75 year old victim, Bill Graves, a retired water veteran who is legally blind in one eye and partially blind in the other said it’s not enough. Graves is pushing for more severe charges.
ABC reported that Graves’ attacker was identified by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office as Jones. Graves contends the confrontation between himself and Jones stemmed from Graves backing a political candidate Jones was not in favor of.
Graves said in an interview that his vision problems are getting worse and now he has to run back and forth between doctors, because of Jones.
Due to conflict of interest concerns the case will not be heard in Essex County.
The Tangled Web of Ocean County Politics
Jones has close ties to Ocean County Republicans and it’s unsure how the assault will play out in local politics.
According to 1868’s Public Affairs website, Jones is partners with George Gilmore, the chairman of the Ocean County Republican Club and Idida Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a senior campaign staffer for former Jackson Township Business Administrator Jose Torres during his bid for re-election in Paterson earlier this year.
Torres was pushed into the Jackson Township spotlight by Gilmore and Jackson Mayor Mike Reina when both lobbied the township council to appoint the former Paterson Mayor to a $120,000 job as the town’s new business administrator. Although his appointment was hotly contested in Jackson, the Republican majority council of Scott Martin, Ken Bressi and Anne Updegrave approved the appointment. Torres, who was legally unqualified for the job was told by the council the requirements would be changed to meet his insufficient educational background. The position required a bachelor’s degree which Torres did not possess.
Shortly after Torres won his election, Gilmore was awarded a $100,000 contract by the city.
Gilmore and Jones’ 1868 Public Affairs came under fire in Ocean County in 2014 when it was reported by the Daily Beast that Wal-Mart was paying 1868 to assist in the approvals process to build a Walmart Super Store in a remote section of Toms River.
Founded in 2005, 1868 Public Affairs’ clients include several dozen New Jersey based firms and boasts, “Our relationships on both sides of the political spectrum at the state and local level in New Jersey are without equal.”