In sting videos, aides say Murphy plans post-election vax mandate
TRENTON – Videos secretly filmed by a conservative activist group show campaign aides who are working to re-elect Gov. Phil Murphy saying that the governor would impose broader vaccine mandates after the campaign is over.
The videos were released by Project Veritas, which often targets Democrats and progressives in undercover sting operations that are often criticized for deceptive editing.
Both the political aides filmed – Wendy Martinez, a consultant hired to work on Murphy’s campaign, and Matthew Urquijo, manager of a coordinated campaign called Forward 2021 funded by the New Jersey Democratic State Committee – said Murphy is waiting to act to avoid angering swing voters.
“He is going to do it, but he couldn’t do it before the elections. Because of the independents and the undecided,” Martinez says in Spanish, later adding that “right now is about him winning.”
“Not that he won't [get elected], but I think there are some people that, you know, might push back,” Urquijo says.
Because it’s New Jersey, the aides each also used some salty language in the videos.
“Because they are all into all the sh*t. My rights, my sh*t -- and they don’t care if they kill everybody,” says Martinez, who is also on a subcommittee of Murphy’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council.
“I think the problem is right now -- because it’s election season – he is not going to have people say like, ‘We're gonna have a mandate now,’” Urquijo says. “Because, you know, for some people that’s going to piss them off. I think once, you know, we have a win, he’s like, ‘Alright, guns blazing, like, who cares, I’m in it. Let’s do the mandates, let’s do this, X, Y, and Z.’”
Project Veritas and its founder, James O’Keefe, have been banned from social-media platforms like Twitter and Instagram after being accused of sharing people’s private information in videos and of operating fake accounts.
The New Jersey Democratic State Committee said two Latina staff members on Monday were lured into a parking garage by O’Keefe and five of his colleagues. An operative had called the staffers by phone claiming that one of their cars had been struck in the garage – then swarmed and chased them.
Murphy campaign manager Mollie Binotto and Democratic State Committee executive director Saily Avelenda called on Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli to denounce O’Keefe and his colleagues for the intimidation and harassment.
“It is absolutely outrageous for the safety of our team to be compromised by luring women into a dark parking garage and ambushing them, causing serious distress and trauma at a time when people working on all campaigns should be allowed to do their jobs without fearing for their safety,” they said. “This is criminal harassment, plain and simple.”
The group is problematic enough that the New Jersey Republican State Committee’s news release responding to the video never mentions who produced it. A subsequent response from Ciattarelli's campaign on Twitter does mention the group.
“This extremely disturbing video appears to confirm what the Murphy campaign has been hinting at – and the NJGOP has been warning about – throughout the summer: that a second Murphy term will bring about the same type of vaccine passports seen in Bill de Blasio's New York, burdening already suffering businesses and discriminating against minority communities in which immunization rates are lower," said NJGOP executive director Tom Szymanski.
"From the beginning of the pandemic, Phil Murphy has been following political science, as opposed to actual science,” Szymanski said. “Purposefully hiding this life-changing information until after the election is as deceitful as it gets.”
Project Veritas says it will release another video related to Murphy’s re-election campaign later this week.
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.