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Gov. Phil Murphy with Essex County Freeholder President Brendan Gill at a Montclair Democrats dinner on Nov. 1, 2018. (Photo by Nikita Biryukov)

Murphy joins Gill at Montclair fundraiser

Governor asks Democratic stronghold to turn out for Menendez, Sherrill

By Nikita Biryukov, November 01 2018 9:59 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy is standing by his former campaign manager Brendan Gill, literally and figuratively, after a story in The (Bergen) Record pointed to the unusual nature of Gill’s unofficial role in the governor’s office and the level of access Gill can provide to Murphy.

“This was quoted in an article yesterday or today, and I said it a while ago and I’ll say it again tonight,” Murphy said at a Montclair Democrats dinner Thursday night, referencing the Record article. “I wouldn’t be here without Brendan Gill.”

Backing Gill, who is Montclair’s Democratic municipal chairman, wasn’t the only reason for Murphy’s appearance at the event — he also went to energize the town’s Democrats ahead of Tuesday’s elections, lavishing praise onto Bob Menendez and Mikie Sherrill, both of whom will need Democratic strongholds like Montclair to win on election day.

But, the first thing Murphy did upon starting his speech before the audience of a couple hundred Democrats was reaffirm his support for Gill.

The Record story’s examination of Gill’s role largely focused on the alliance his firm, the BGill Group, has with Public Strategies Impact, one of the state’s most influential lobbying firms.

The thrust of that article is that Gill could provide access to the governor — to push legislation, help land job offers or otherwise assist in getting Murphy’s eyes on something — without the type of oversight state law requires for traditional lobbyists.

Gill and his attorney Kerrie Campbell have denied that Gill, who is president of Essex County Board of Freeholders, engaged in the practice, which experts have dubbed shadow lobbying.

Yet, rather than distance himself from his former campaign manager — as some of his predecessors have done —  he traveled to Gill’s hometown to show his support.

 

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