Gov. Phil Murphy is naming four new public members to the State Ethics Commission, which has statutory authority to enforce conflicts of interest laws in state government and parts o the New Jersey’s Casino Control Act.
Murphy has picked Victor Herlinsky, a politically active attorney and longtime Cory Booker fundraiser, to serve on the panel, along with Babatunde Odubekun, Stephanie Brown and Patricia Morgan.
The appointees, who do not require Senate confirmation, replace holdovers originally named by Gov. Christopher Christie: Juan Fernandez, Anthony Slimowicz and Fred Alworth, a childhood friend of Christie. A fourth member, Joseph LaSala, has agreed to resign this week as part of a transition to a Murphy-run panel.
“This commission has one of the most important functions in our state, serving as a safeguard for the integrity of our government,” Murphy said. “I am confident that each of these nominees will serve honorably and work to ensure public trust in our state government.”
Brown will serve as chair.
Herlinsky was named by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and by Gov. Jon Corzine as a member of the New Jersey Interagency Council to Prevent and Reduce Homelessness. He is a partner at Sills Cummis, a politically influential North Jersey law firm, and played key roles in Booker’s campaigns for Newark City Council and Mayor.
Brown had served on Murphy’s staff as an assistant counsel before leaving to run government affairs for Remarkable Foods.
Morgan served in the Christie administration as an assistant counsel and as assistant commissioner and chief legal officer at the state Department of Education. She currently serves as executive director of JerseyCAN, an education advocacy group.
A former Newark Housing Authority Commissioner, Odubekun served as associate counsel to the Board of Public Utilities and is the commercial counsel for a renewable energy company, Distributed Solar Development.
State law limits the number of public members of the same political party to four. Herlinsky and Brown are Democrats, Morgan is a Republican, and Odubekun is an unaffiliated voter.
Murphy had previously designed two members of his administration, Commissioner of Children and Families Christine Norbut Beyer and Motor Vehicles Commission chief Sue Fulton, to serve on the panel. The seat held by Carole Johnson, who resigned her post as Commissioner of Human Services to join the Biden administration, remains vacant.