George Norcross had filed a lawsuit against Gov. Phil Murphy and the Task Force investigating tax incentives awarded by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority alleging that he has been “falsely and publicly accused of misconduct regarding the tax incentives that lawfully attend such investment and have been denied a fair opportunity to refute those defamatory accusations.”
Cooper University Health Care, the law firm of Parker McCay, and Norcross’s insurance firm, Connor, Strong & Buckalew, have joined the South Jersey Democratic leader as plaintiffs in the suit, filed today in Superior Court. A copy of the complaint has been obtained by the New Jersey Globe.
In addition to Murphy, task force chairman Ronald Chen and counsel Jim Walden were also named, along with the EDA.
“Plaintiffs, four of whom have made an enormous investment in the revitalization of Camden, one of America’s poorest cities, have been falsely and publicly accused of misconduct regarding the tax incentives that lawfully attend such investment and have been denied a fair opportunity to refute those defamatory accusations,” the suit alleges. “Moreover, those accusations have been made through an entity that is unauthorized by law and is being counseled by New York attorneys who are not properly licensed to practice law in this State. In this action, Plaintiffs will ask the Court to declare the Task Force’s conduct unlawful, its powers unauthorized, and its counsel unlicensed.”
The suit was filed a virtual dream team of lawyers.
Norcross alleges that Walden’s firm, Walden Macht, “abused its authority from the outset, in the process generating exorbitant legal bills to be borne by New Jersey taxpayers.”
“At Walden Macht’s direction, the Task Force immediately singled out Conner Strong, NFI, Michaels, and Cooper from among grant applicants although they represented only a small fraction of applicants and Cooper received a small percentage of the total tax credits approved by the EDA,” the suit says. “Indeed, according to the State Comptroller, as of February 2018, the EDA had approved 1,000 projects under its various programs, which provided close to $11 billion in tax incentives.
Murphy’s office says the look forward to defending the legality of the task force.
“The Task Force on EDA Incentives was formed as the result of a report from the State Comptroller, who was appointed by former Governor Chris Christie, detailing a lack of accountability and oversight in the state’s tax incentive programs. That effort has never been about one person, one company, or one city. It is about ensuring that the tax incentive programs are operated to the benefit of everyone in New Jersey, not just a select, connected few,” said Darryl Isherwood, a spokesman for the governor. “We look forward to vigorously defending the task force, its investigation, and the actions of this administration in court.”
This story was updated at 3:32 PM with comment from Murphy’s spokesman.FILED COMPLAINT NORCROSS V MURPHY