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NJ gym owner running for Congress facing drunken driving charge

Associated Press/Matt Rourke

New Jersey Republican congressional candidate Ian Smith was arrested on Sunday on charges of driving under the influence. 

Smith, who owns a gym that defied the state’s COVID-19 public safety rules, refused a breathalyzer test when he was stopped on a highway early Sunday morning, according to The New Jersey Globe.

Campaign spokesperson Steve Kush told the Globe that the candidate’s car swerved due to high winds, adding that Smith passed a field sobriety test. 

“The cop wasn’t satisfied and put cuffs on him,” Kush said. “Ian will have his day in court. Everyone will find out Ian wasn’t drunk driving.”

Kush added that Smith refused the breathalyzer test because he feared Cinnaminson police officer Harry Cicale was 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 added.

Smith, who is running in New Jersey’s 3rd District, has been a vocal critic of Gov. Phil Murphy (D)’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He refused to close his gym early in the pandemic, and was arrested in July 2020 along with his co-owner Frank Trumbetti on charges of fourth-degree contempt and obstruction and violation of a disaster control act.

He also has a history of driving-related charges. In 2007, then 20-year-old Smith pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide after rolling through a stop sign and crashing into 19-year-old Kevin Ade’s car. Ade died at the scene.

In 2008, Smith was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison, at the age of 20. 

For his more recent drunk driving charges, Smith is expected to appear in Cinnaminson Municipal Court on April 14.

The Hill has reached out to Smith’s campaign for comment. 

Tags Driving under the influence Ian Smith Phil Murphy

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