Gov. Phil Murphy appeared to support expanding a state probe into a racist 2017 campaign mailer in Edison to include a similarly offensive flyer in Hoboken around the same time.
“If you’re asking me conceptually would I be supportive of running that to ground, absolutely,” the governor said. “But again, that’s something I have to defer to the attorney general on.”
In the final days before Hoboken’s 2017 municipal elections, voters in the Hudson city were met with a piece of literature bearing now-Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s face and the words “don’t let TERRORISM take over our town.”
Bhalla is a Sikh American and wears a turban.
The mailer included a disclaimer that it was “Paid for by Team DeFusco for Hoboken,” an attempt to connect Councilman Mike DeFusco, then Bhalla’s opponent, to the literature. The councilman has denounced the flyer, and there’s no evidence his campaign was involved in its mailing.
On Friday, Bhalla, DeFusco and Councilmembers Ruben Ramos, Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher called on Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to include the Hoboken mailer in a probe covering a similarly offensive piece of literature in Edison.
That mailer promised to “Make Edison Great Again,” and alleged the “Chinese and Indians are taking over our town. It showed two non-white candidates — Jerry Shi, who is of Chinese descent and now a councilman, and Falguni Patel, who is of Indian descent — with the word “deported” stamped across their faces.
A U.S. Postal Inspector later named Shi as one of eight individuals responsible for the Edison mailer.
The state on Friday subpoenaed Edison Township for documents related to the anonymous flyer and has empaneled a grand jury to determine whether charges will be filed.