Phil Murphy has a problem with women
TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy has a problem with women. And he's not talking about it.
Murphy is refusing to release former campaign staffers and current employees from nondisclosure agreements they were forced to sign as a condition for working with the Murphy team. A Star-Ledger editorial called the governor out for the gag orders this week, but when he was asked about the article at a Tuesday news conference, his response was Trump-esque.
Murphy said the story was "riddled with inaccuracies," adding, "There's an agenda there. I'm not sure what it is."
He did everything but utter "fake news." He did not, however, answer the question.
Since Katie Brennan came forward to accuse a fellow campaign staffer of rape, and detail how Murphy and his team ignored her pleas for justice for months, more women have come forward. One described a man with rage-against-women issues being promoted to Murphy's deputy chief of staff. Another says a campaign boss threw a chair. A Murphy staffer testified during legislative hearings there were other complaints. Are there more? Who knows.
Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, is leading the legislative investigation into the way the Murphy administration handled the Katie Brennan allegation, but has expanded the probe to determine if there is a pattern of mistreating women. She has asked for the gag orders to be lifted. They have not been.
Committee co-chair, Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, D-Newark, said the governor must lift the gag order so more women can come forward without fear.
"No matter what environment (women) are in, they should be allowed to (come forward)," Pintor Marin said.
There is an old adage in politics that the cover-up is always worse than the crime. That is not to suggest that Murphy has been accused of a crime, because he hasn't, but there does seem to be a concerted effort of obfuscation when it comes to the conduct of his staff. When coupled with his pledge to have an inclusive and transparent administration, State House observers say the optics are not favorable.
Murphy won election with 55 percent of the female vote. He has largely gotten a pass on the Katie Brennan scandal as staffers continue to insist the governor was unaware of the specifics. However, most insiders believe it will be hard for the governor to escape fallout from his determination to keep other women in his administration silent.
Eric Scott is Vice President, Senior Political Director and Director of Special Projects for New Jersey 101.5. He anchors "New Jersey's First News" and weekday morning newscasts from 5 to 10 a.m., in addition to hosting a bimonthly Town Hall series.
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