- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A liberal group is taking out ads attacking both candidates in the 3rd District Republican congressional primary in New Jersey.

Patriot Majority USA has spent more than $110,000 on direct mail, online and television ads bashing both Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur since May 22, according to the group’s filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The group is an independent advocacy group that is not required to disclose its donors. It is also not allowed to coordinate with any candidate’s campaign. It is weighing in ahead of the June 3 primary elections.

A mailer first reported by The Star-Ledger (https://bit.ly/1oq8MFA ) portrays MacArthur as tax-happy and Lonegan as too conservative. MacArthur’s campaign issued a statement criticizing the ads because they were produced by firms that work for Democrats.

MacArthur’s campaign manager, Chris Russell, accused the group of “meddling in a Republican primary.”

Patriot Majority USA spent more than $2 million across the country from last year through the end of March. So far, the organization is the only group to declare making independent expenditures in this year’s Congressional races in New Jersey.

The 3rd District seat is now held by Republican Jon Runyan, who is not seeking re-election. It is considered the most competitive in the state in general elections.

The district stretches from the Philadelphia suburbs to the shore.

Democrat Aimee Belgard, who has the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is the front runner in her primary race against Howard Kleinhendler and Bruce Todd.

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