Hoboken Councilman DeFusco Criticizes Mayor Bhalla Over Murphy Lawsuit
On Thursday, members of the New Jersey Republican Party, along with the owners of four, small businesses located around the Garden State, filed a three-count suit in Cape May County Superior Court against Democratic Governor Phil Murphy and his Administration. The suit claims the Governor’s Executive Order, calling for residents to stay-at-home during the COVID-19 pandemic, is having a negative impact on business owners across New Jersey.
The state, over the last several weeks, has seen more and more business owners defying the Governor’s Executive Order. Many business owners are claiming equal protection violations and the creation of arbitrary and capricious classifications of workers resulting in the violation of constitutional rights. That business is essential, but this business is not. NorthJersey.com was the first to report on the legal action.
A statement released by New Jersey Republican State Committee Chairman Doug Steinhardt says, “Governor Murphy has irreparably harmed New Jersey small businesses by arbitrarily declaring some essential and others non-essential. While mom and pop barbers, bars, brew pubs and retail shops are shuttered and struggling, big box stores, with big cash cushions, survive. Governor Murphy has callously covered his ears, closed his eyes, and ignored New Jersey’s cries for honest answers to real problems. The Covid crisis has created challenges for governments everywhere, but forty-nine other states are making progress, while New Jersey flounders. Governor Murphy could be guided by science, but instead hides behind it.”
The legal firm representing the NJRSC in its lawsuit is Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis and Cohen, which has offices in Hackettstown, Morristown and Blairstown. They just happen to employ Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. That point really sticks in the craw of Hoboken Councilman Mike DeFusco, who has been critical of the Mayor on a number of issues, including the fact that he says the Mayor broke his own campaign promise by accepting a job with the law firm after saying he would be a fulltime Mayor upon his election.
DeFusco released a statement on Thursday after learning of the Republican lawsuit against the Governor and his administration, saying, “It is remarkable to see Mayor Bhalla publicly taking credit in Hoboken for the work the Governor and state officials have done in combating COVID-19, while privately his very own law firm seeks to cause irreparable damage to the progress we have made to flatten the curve in New Jersey. It’s disingenuous to publicly rally Hoboken residents to abide by one set of rules while quietly engaging in a frivolous lawsuit for his own financial benefit at the expense of state taxpayers. I have always felt strongly that Hoboken needs a full time Mayor free of these kinds of ethical questions, and this lawsuit only solidifies my position.”
New Jersey Democratic State Committee spokesman Phil Swibinski added, “For years, Trenton Republicans partnered with Chris Christie to put our state in a deep hole. Now, throughout this crisis, they have engaged in hyper partisan attacks on Governor Murphy. The Trenton Republicans ignore science, ignore health professionals and ignore data — they even make light of the need to keep New Jerseyans safe. While New Jerseyans from every political affiliation are rallying behind the Governor’s leadership, the state’s incredibly out-of-touch Republican Party is trying to hijack the court system to literally play politics with peoples’ lives. This should tell New Jersey residents everything they need to know about Trenton Republicans – they’re just like the Trump Washington Republicans, and all they care about is scoring political points, even at the expense of the people of our state.”
One of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Republican State Senator Michael Testa of Cape May County.
When Governor Murphy was asked about the lawsuit during his daily coronavirus press briefing on Thursday, he claimed not to know the details of the case.
Republican State Committee Chairman Steinhardt added, “This lawsuit lets Plaintiffs plead their case to the Courts, since the Governor made clear that if you disagree with him you should move to another State. While good fortune may insulate Governor Murphy from the economic side effects of his bad judgment, New Jersey’s small businesses owners and 1.1 million unemployed are less lucky. Worse yet, they’ll be paying the price for the Governor’s poor judgment and fiscal mismanagement long after he’s gone, come November 2021. Maybe by the time he’s applying for New Jersey unemployment, the system will be up and running.”
So, as the weather warms, the legal battle continues, pitting the health of New Jerseyans against the economic livelihood of its businesses.