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Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Coughlin bashes threat of ads by Murphy group

Governor’s non-profit hints of pressuring legislators

By David Wildstein, April 26 2018 1:32 pm

The dispute between Gov. Phil Murphy and the Democratic legislative leadership is about to deepen amidst reports that a non-profit group is about to launch a campaign to pressure legislators into supporting the governor’s agenda.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin wants Murphy to disavow remarks made by Murphy political advisor Brendan Gill, who told NorthJersey.com that New Direction New Jersey will begin to run digital and perhaps TV ads in late May – a month before the Legislature has to pass a state budget.

“Trying to pressure our members would be an unfortunate decision.  Our caucus is focused on crafting a budget that represents the best interests of the taxpayers and no amount of threats will deter us from doing what we believe to be in the best interest of New Jersey’s families,” Coughlin said.  “I would strongly advise the administration to distance itself from these remarks and these tactics.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney says he’s not worried about the group pushing members of his caucus.

“A campaign to raise taxes? Bring it on,” Sweeney said.  “Standing for taxpayers is first and foremost our job.  The Senate will always fight for the working families of this state, and no amount of pressure will change that.

Gill and two of Murphy’s media consultants, Steve DeMicco and Brad Lawrence, announced the 501(c)(4) a few weeks after the election.  Gov. Chris Christie had a similar group, although Gill has said he would disclose the donors.

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