Ian Smith, the owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr who gained national attention early in the Covid-19 pandemic for refusing to comply with Governor Murphy’s orders to shut down his facility is now running for the US House of Representatives.
Smith and co-owner Frank Trumbetti were arrested in July 2020 on fourth-degree contempt and obstruction and violation of a disaster control act for keeping their gym open. They posted a video of their arrest on Facebook, where they called out their lack of freedom during the pandemic.
“Welcome to America 2020, where feeding your family and standing up for your Constitutional rights is illegal,” they wrote.
The gym also offered free memberships last March to anyone who refuses to get the Covid-19 vaccines, in response to Krispy Kreme offering free donuts to anyone who gets vaccinated.
Smith said that he will challenge Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, who represents New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District in the House, though his campaign won’t officially kick off until Thursday.
“I am truly excited to have the possibility to serve the people of NJ with a platform focused on liberty, small government, and America First policies,” Smith tweeted.
Smith is the second Republican to announce a challenge to Andy Kim, joining business owner Robert Healey Jr.
Smith also has somewhat of a checkered past. In 2007, when he was 20, he was sentenced to more than 5 years in prison after driving drunk and killing a teenager. But Smith asks that people look past that incident.
“What was stand for is far bigger than me,” he wrote on Instagram. “I understand people’s resentment and hatred towards me. All I ask is you listen to the details and make your decision based off of that.”