John R. Muniz, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran in 2018 to unseat Congressman Albio Sires in New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District, took 18.7% of the vote compared to the incumbent’s 78.1%. In 2019, Muniz secured the Republican nomination for Hudson County Surrogate in an uncontested primary, running against Democrat Tilo Rivas. The 2019 general election produced a similar result for Muniz, who took 18.2% in the heavily-Democratic Hudson County contest.
According to the New Jersey Electoral Law Enforcement Commission, Muniz did not file certain, necessary reports leading up to and after Election Day in his bid for Hudson County Surrogate. ELEC filed a complaint against Muniz, dated November 24, 2021, and offered an opportunity for a hearing, asserting that Muniz had not, at the time of the complaint, filed a certified Form R-1 Report of Contributions and Expenditures (29-day pre-election report), Form A-1 Candidate-Sworn Statement, or Form A-2 Joint Candidates Committee-Sworn Statement.
ELEC said that Muniz was required to file Form R-1 on October 7, 2019, to report all contributions taken in as well as expenditures during the election up to October 4 of the same year. Otherwise, Form A-1 or Form A-2 had to be filed on or before October 7. ELEC said that Muniz failed to file these.
In its proposed findings of fact, ELEC asserted that Muniz had not filed a certified 11-day pre-election report required by the time the complaint was made, reporting monies received and spent from October 5, 2019, through October 22, 2019. Additionally, no certified Form R-1 was filed as a 20-day post-election report on November 22, 2019.
ELEC issued a notice of its meeting on March 15, 2022, considering the complaints of the un-filed reports where a final decision was made. The Commission considered Muniz’s affidavit and waiver of hearing and voted 3-0 to adopt its final decision. This came after Muniz filed Form A-1 on January 3, 2022, some 819 days late. “In assessing a penalty,” ELEC said, “the Commission relied upon Respondent’s statement that funds were spent in the 2019 general election.”
The Commission reprimanded Muniz and imposed a penalty of $475 for the late filing of Form A-1, which was paid.