Prosecutor: We’re going after Young Republicans for COVID violations
New York Young Republicans who hoped to keep the location of their annual fundraiser a secret have been outed by Jersey City's chief prosecutor, who said he will bring charges for violating Gov. Phil Murphy's coronavirus executive orders.
Mid-day Friday, city officials said the restaurant holding the event has been shut down as well.
Update, 2 p.m.: Gov. Phil Murphy has since called Rep. Matt Gaetz "Matt Putz" for his participation in the event described below, and New York You Republican Club leadership says it followed all laws at the event.
The fundraiser, held Thursday night, was originally scheduled for the Caldwell Factory in the Chelsea section of Manhattan according to the New York Times. After more 65 people indicated on the group's Facebook page they would attend the fundraiser, the event was moved to a new location.
New York rules limit capacity inside restaurants to 25% of capacity, or 50 people, whichever is fewer.
A new location was selected but not made public on the Facebook page.
The new location, apparently: The Maritime Parc restaurant at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.
Jersey City chief prosecutor Jake Hudnut responded to to a tweet by attendee Joel Fischer, who taunted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to "come and get me." He was pictured with Florida Rep. Matt Gatez, who was a speaker at the fundraiser.
"Pssst...you are in Jersey City - not New York. Gov. Cuomo may not be able to “come and get” you. But I can," Hudnut tweeted.
Hudnut said that photos of the event showing "COVID-19 violations are dangerous and unacceptable." He didn't say which violations municipal officials would allege, specifically, but said his office was working with Liberty State Park police and city Health Department to take immediate action.
"So brave of you to tweet at @NYGovCuomo after sneaking across the river to hide in NJ in order to hold a party that you wouldn’t disclose the location of. Nevertheless JC law enforcement will be visiting the Maritime Parc this AM + will follow appropriate steps within laws of NJ," Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop wrote in response to the same tweet.
Later Friday, Fulop released a statement saying the "event appears to be an egregious violation of the governor’s executive orders, including capacity limitations and mandatory mask wearing."
"This event blatantly disregards the protections put in place to safeguard the community from further contagion and has put Jersey City and countless others at serious risk. As we further investigate the matter, the establishment has been ordered closed until such time as they submit to the Jersey City Health and Human Services Department a written operational plan describing how they’re going to comply with capacity mandates and mask wearing, and the plan will be subsequently reviewed by the city and approved," the mayor wrote.
Under executive orders by Gov. Phil Murphy, indoor gatherings are currently limited to 10 people, and all attendees must wear face coverings and stay six feet apart. The limit is relaxed to 150 people or 25 percent of a room's capacity, whichever is lower, for weddings, funerals or memorial services, as well as First Amendment-protected political activities
New Jersey also currently limits capacity for indoor dining, and requires businesses that serve food or drink to close their indoor facilities by 10 p.m.
The club on its Facebook page posted a group picture of attendees at the fundraiser and wrote "the press attacked us. The politicians scorned us. But we prevailed."
Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin had originally been booked for the event. The New York Times, citing an unnamed source with knowledge of her plans, said she cancelled over concerns about flying from Alaska to the New York area during the ongoing pandemic.