BELLMAWR, NJ – A New Jersey Republican Congressional Candidate who had previously served time in prison for a drunk driving charge that resulted in the death of a 19-year-old in 2007 has once again been charged by police for DUI.
Ian Smith, the owner of the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr gained popularity in 2020 when he openly defied Governor Phil Murphy’s orders to shut down gyms during the COVID-19 pandemic announced he was running for Congress in New Jersey’s redefined third congressional district.
Smith celebrated the opening of his campaign headquarters on Saturday.
A flyer for the event read, “Come join us for refreshments, snacks and fun.”
Later that night, he was charged with DUI while driving in Cinnaminson at around 12:25 am.
The GOP candidate was charged with driving under the influence, refusing to take a breathalyzer test, and multiple moving violations including reckless driving, careless driving, failure to observe traffic lanes, and delaying traffic.
Smith was pulled over on Route 130 near North Andover Road, about an 8-mile drive from his campaign headquarters in Mount Laurel.
Court records show Smith was later released from police custody to a responsible person.
In 2007, Smith was charged with manslaughter and drunk driving after causing the death of 19-year-old Galloway Township resident Kevin Ade. During Smith’s campaign, friends and family of Ade, and his opponents routinely made his past crime a campaign issue, forcing Smith to issue a statement last month about the incident. Smith eventually spent 5 1/2 years in prison for the incident.
Steve Kush, Smith’s campaign manager claimed Smith was being framed by Cinnaminson Police officers and that Smith was not drunk, only swerving because of high winds. According to Weather Underground, winds in Cinnaminson were gusting between 25-29 miles per hour.
Kush added that Smith refused a breathalyzer because the arresting officer was a “standout Cinnaminson High School baseball player” who “might be trying to set him up”.
“Ian doesn’t have much trust of the government after the persecution he’s received by the governor over the last two years,” Kush said, according to a story in the New Jersey Globe today. “I would trust Ian Smith to drive my mother to a doctor appointment.”
Smith is scheduled to appear in court on April 14th.
He is one of three Republican candidates competing for the Republican nomination for Congress in CD-3, where Democrat Andy Kim is expected to win in a landslide after gerrymandering moved the district into more heavily Democrat populated towns this year.