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Accused of predatory abuse of power, state senate candidate Jason Minnicozzi withdraws, blaming financial issues

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WHQR
Direct messages from state senate candidate Jason Minnicozzi.

Several days ago, a woman came forward on social media, accusing Minnicozzi of using his access to court records to proposition her after she appeared in court to testify against an abusive ex. Minnicozzi refused to acknowledge the incident but the state's Democratic Party made it clear "harassment" was the reason he dropped out.

Democratic candidate Jason Minnicozzi, a former Brunswick County prosecutor and current public defender in New Hanover County, is dropping out of the race for North Carolina State Senate District 7, a highly competitive race where he was facing incumbent Republican state senator Michael Lee.

The move comes several days after a New Hanover County woman posted allegations on social media that Minnicozzi abused his position in the court system to get personal information about her and proposition her after a traumatic day in court.

The woman agreed to allow WHQR to use her social media post, but we've removed her name to protect her from potential harassment and retaliation.

Her post read:

In 2015, I was assaulted by an ex, his neighbor heard the blows and called the police. At the time they arrived, I had obviously been beaten and was far too scared to press charges, so the state of North Carolina chose to do so instead. It took a month of convincing by the DA to testify against my attacker and see him again face-to-face in a court of law. I chose to do it for the women who could no longer speak against violence like this. It was one of the harder days of my life and I won’t soon forget it. That being said, I was a crying mess and very clearly a vulnerable person in the court room that day.

There happened to be a lawyer sitting in on my case, waiting to use the court room after my case had wrapped. He was defending a male abuser, go figure. How did I know this guy existed? Well, he used privileged court information after watching me take the stand so that he could locate me on Instagram and DM me later that night, asking me out on a date and discussing his plans that day to represent an abusive male. His sympathy was zero, his unlawful use of my information did not evade me, and his only interest was clear to me: he wanted to use his privilege to prey on victimized women, in particular.

So, why share this now? Well, he just sent me a friend request and it turns out the low-life is now running for NC Senate. After realizing his mistake, he immediately blocked me. Smart guy! Would you want to know who this candidate was after hearing all of this? Just curious. Thanks for taking the time to read

His name is Jason Minnicozzi. He is running for NC Senate District 7. Please feel free to share this entire post anywhere, photos included. We need to keep men like this out of our state Senate.

For several days, both Minnicozzi and the North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) did not respond to requests for comment. Then, late Sunday, both sent statements.

The NCDP directly acknowledged the allegations, saying it would not tolerate "harassment." NCDP noted it could field a replacement candidate in Minnicozzi's place. Because Senate District 7 covers only New Hanover County, the county’s Democratic Party leadership can choose that candidate.

“Harassment of any kind cannot be tolerated. Mr. Minnicozzi made the right decision to drop out of this race. New Hanover deserves a leader who serves with integrity and someone they can trust to do the job," NCDP Chair Bobbie Richardson wrote in a statement.

In sharp contrast, Minnicozzi blamed campaign finance shortfalls, did not reference the allegations in any way, and suggested he would run again when the "time was right."

Minnicozzi's statement is below:

When I began my campaign for State Senate 4 months ago, I committed to the voters of the 7th District that I was “in it to win it.”. Over the last several weeks, it has become clear to me that the Republican Party apparatus intends to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to drown out my message of hope and renewal, and instead resort to their old political playbook of negativity and debasement.

Despite the overwhelming support I have received from the residents of the 7th District, it is apparent to me that my campaign simply does not have the financial resources necessary to counter the Republican attacks that are coming. In short, I have come to the difficult conclusion that my campaign will not have the financial resources to “win it.”

It is crucial that we direct our resources towards preventing a Republican super majority from being elected. The residents of the 7th District and the State of North Carolina deserve a candidate who has the financial resources to counter the Republican attack machine. I cannot in good faith continue to divert resources away from those efforts. Regrettably, it is clear to me that I must step aside and withdraw as the Democratic nominee for the North Carolina State Senate, District 7, in order to help advance that goal.

We must do all that we can to prevent a Republican super majority from taking over the State Senate. There is simply too much at stake. I am hopeful that the candidate who takes my place will have the financial support to do all that is necessary to take on my opponent, and I am committed to doing whatever I can to support whoever that candidate may be.

It has been the privilege of my lifetime to run for the State Senate. I am incredibly proud of the work I have done representing the indigent and in helping to achieve equity in our judicial system. Although 2022 has proven not to be my time for a run for elective office, I am incredibly thankful for the support I have received and I am hopeful that the people of North Carolina and the residents of the 7th District will welcome me again when the time is right.

Chief Defender Jennifer Harjo said she could not comment on employee issues.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.