Gov. Phil Murphy defended conference calls between top members of his administration and his outside political consultants Tuesday.
“No, absolutely not,” Murphy said when asked whether the calls should be stopped. “This is a very typical thing, not just for New Jersey but something that happens. We solicit advice from people inside and outside of government all the time. The important point is government decisions are made by those in government, period, and there’s no exception to that.”
The calls, which happen most Fridays, feature at least 12 top Murphy aides: Chief of Staff George Helmy; Deputy Chiefs of Staff Joe Kelley, Justin Braz, Greg Petzold; and Deborah Cornavaca; Senior Advisor Dan Bryan; Communications Director Mahen Gunaratna; Chief Policy Advisor Kathleen Frangione; Press Secretary Alyana Alfaro Post; Senior Advisor Derrick Greene; Stephanie Lagos, the First Lady’s Chief of Staff; and Matt Platkin, Murphy’s chief counsel.
Murphy has sat in on at least some of those calls.
“We’ve had a couple — the answer is yes, but strategy sessions, broad strategy discussions,” the governor said when asked if he was ever present during to Inside/Outside calls.
The call’s outside members are Steve DeMicco and Brad Lawrence of Message & Media; Brendan Gill, Murphy’s former campaign manager; and Adam Alonso, the governor’s former Deputy Chief of Staff; and Jim McQueeny, a lobbyist and former top aide to Frank Lautenberg.
Democratic State Committee Executive Director Liz Gilbert was on the calls before she left the state earlier this month.