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

Murphy ‘deeply troubled’ by EDA reports

By Nikita Biryukov, May 01 2019 4:33 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy stressed the importance of the task force he convened to investigate abuses of tax incentive programs administered by the Economic Development Authority after two reports raised questions about the drafting of the programs’ enabling legislation.

“I am deeply troubled by the findings outlined in both the WNYC report this morning and the New York Times story this afternoon,” Murphy said. “Coupled with what we already know about how the tax incentive program operated over the past six years, I believe now more than ever in the importance of the task force I commissioned.”

The New York Times on Wednesday reported Kevin Sheehan, who works at Parker McCay, a firm headed by Philip Norcross, drafted amendments to the 2013 bill enabling the EDA’s incentive programs.

Those amendments, the Times reported, favored Camden, the seat of New Jersey kingmaker George Norcross, over other cities eligible for awards under the programs.

The WNYC report found that at least $1.1 billion of the $1.6 billion in tax breaks the EDA awarded for capital projects in Camden went to firms owned or doing business with Philip and George Norcross.

“Until we’ve taken a good hard look at the entire process, I don’t believe we can be sure that all taxpayer money has been properly spent and accounted for,” Murphy said. “If there was fraud in this program, I expect the task force will uncover it and those individuals will be held accountable.”

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