TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy acknowledged he solicited contributions to a political group that is pushing his agenda despite the group ignoring his public request that it identify its other donors.

A group called New Direction New Jersey has run campaign-style commercials featuring the governor talking about his administration's accomplishments during his first year including the full funding of public schools, fixing NJ Transit, protecting healthcare and new gun safety laws.

But the source of who contributed to the group remains a secret. Unlike campaigns and certain political organizations, independent political action committees like New Direction are not required to disclose their donors.

In a statement to NJ.com in December, New Direction spokesman Philip Swibinski said "increased attacks from powerful special interest groups seeking to preserve the status quo" led the organization to break its word and to keep the list of donors secret.

Answering questions from reporters after a news conference on Wednesday, Murphy said he supported legislation that would require political groups to reveal their contributors.

"They should not have the option not to disclose," Murphy said citing similar support from state Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Murphy earlier said that NDNJ should also reveal its list of donors as well.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen, said in an essay for SaveJersey.com that by not disclosing the donors they are protecting "millionaires and big money organizations."

"Actions and inactions speak louder than words, and dirty politics can only continue to exist through lack of transparency," Schapisi writes.

Senate bill S1500 would require "independent expenditure committees" to disclose donors. The bill has remained in committee with the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee since last February.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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