‘Campaign of Retaliation’

Jay Jalisi surprised many when he won a Top 2 slot in June’s House of Delegates primary election. The District 10 general election candidate defeated three officially supported candidates, losing only to incumbent Del. Adrienne Jones when all votes were totaled.

Three days after the election, on June 27, Jalisi, together with his Friends of Jay Jalisi campaign committee, sued two former staffers and a former contractor for more than $200,000 and filed for a temporary restraining order against all three, accusing the group of violating their contracts and distributing false and harmful statements about the candidate. The restraining order request has since been denied, but the decision on the injunction remains open.

Additionally, on April 8, HMJ Asset Management Company, Jalisi’s real estate company, filed a petition to collect money from one of the former staffers in a landlord-tenant claim. Later, on May 1, Jalisi successfully obtained a restraining order against that same employee.

The June 27 lawsuit stems from a video that spread on YouTube days before the primary election. The video, which accused Jalisi of lying about his age, nationality and occupation, among other things, was attributed to the group “Citizens of District Ten,” but Jalisi accuses the former staffers, whom the suit says were terminated and reacted “by instituting a campaign of retaliation and negative accusation,” of producing and promoting the clip.

“The video contained false and disparaging statements about Dr. Jalisi and included confidential information, as defined in the [contracts],” filings read. Additionally, the documents say, the video violates Maryland election law by omitting any information about the name and address of the treasurer of the campaign finance entity responsible for the material.

“As a result, Plaintiff Jalisi cannot properly address his detractors and risks losing potential votes each passing day,” the suit says. It does not identify what of the information is false and what was confidential. The $200,000 figure, the documents say, does less damage to the former staffers than the continued distribution of the video would do to Jalisi and his campaign.

Jalisi also alleges in the suit that the group conspired to post an advertisement titled “Room for Rent” with Jalisi’s personal cell phone number on Craigslist in the days before the election in an effort to tie up his phone on the most critical days of the campaign.

The suit is one of more than 50 lawsuits in which Jalisi has been a party, either individually or via his property management company. In several of the cases in which Jalisi is listed as a defendant, the plaintiff has had difficulty finding a physical address to deliver a summons. A traffic violation lists Jalisi’s address as 10807 Falls Road, #632, Brooklandville, but that address leads to a P.O. box at the post office in the Greenspring Professional Building, something the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration does not allow be used as an address on a state-issued ID.

Four days before the June 24 primary election, Jalisi garnered attention when multiple local politicians, including Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond and State Delegates Dan Morhaim and Dana Stein, sent statements to local news outlets clarifying that they had not endorsed Jalisi in the District 10 race but rather had endorsed three of his opponents instead. The move was in response to an email blast and website post from the Jalisi campaign that featured supportive messages from the politicians. Jalisi’s campaign later countered with their own statement insisting that he had not sought their endorsements, and the statements featured in his blast were in support of his work with the community.

Despite the statements made by Almond, Morhaim and Stein and the video at the heart of the suit, Jalisi managed to comfortably win a spot on the November ballot, somethinga memorandum from the defense pointed to as a potential reason to support dismissing the claim.

On July 29, two of the defendants filed a motion to dismiss.

The response to the suit asserts that Jalisi’s memorandum in support of the motion “is replete with bad accusations and vague assertations of improper activity which lack factual support.” Additionally, the defense claims, Friends of Jalisi, Inc. had forfeited its corporate charter and was not in good standing at the time all contracts were signed and therefore cannot hold any of the three former staffers to it. The charter was not reincorporated until April 2, 2014.

As of press time, the video at the center of the suit had been removed from video hosting sites.

hnorris@jewishtimes.com

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