A very Jersey response — Murphy on SUV controversy
💲 Murphy brushes off criticism of using federal COVID $$ for new SUVs
😡 Sen. Mike Testa calls it "despicable"
💲 Questions remain about how Murphy spent relief money
Gov. Phil Murphy brushed aside the controversy over the state's use of federal COVID relief money to purchase a fleet of custom SUVs to drive him and other state officials around.
"It is what it is," Murphy said when he was asked about the expenditure during an appearance on News 12.
State Police spent $522,783 in COVID money to buy eight Chevy Suburban SUVs to transport Murphy, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and other state officials. The justification used for the expenditure was that these officials "provide leadership and lend support to the state's COVID-19 recovery efforts."
Sen. Mike Testa, R-Cumberland, called the use of COVID money to provide Murphy with a new ride "despicable."
Members of the public also questioned the use of COVID funds for new vehicles.
Read our original report on the COVID expenditures HERE.
"I had no choice," Murphy said during his TV appearance, and then explained the use of federal money meant New Jersey tax dollars could be used for other necessities.
Pressed further, Murphy bristled, and replied, "Let's put it this way: I don't think it's illegitimate."
While the vast majority of the money was spent on hospitals, public health initiatives and for local government assistance directly related to the pandemic, there were a few curious items in the memo, including the purchase of a new SUV fleet.
The governor and lieutenant governor are granted full transportation and security detail. A state trooper drives them wherever they need to go. Other state officials, including the attorney general, the Assembly dpeaker and Senate president also have state vehicles with a driver and security detail.
Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.