At his weekly Covid briefing today, Gov. Phil Murphy responded firmly to comments from Republican lieutenant gubernatorial nominee Diane Allen about Covid cases among immigrants.
“The people I’m running against started repeating this ridiculous Fox News narrative that the reason why Covid is raging in Texas and other places like that is because illegal immigrants are coming over the border, encouraged by this president, with Covid, and then being put on buses and send to states,” he said. “I mean, that’s tin-foil hat stuff.”
Although not by name, Murphy scolded Allen, a former Republican state senator running on a ticket with Jack Ciattarelli, for her claims.
“When you start to parrot conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact, you are making people less healthy and putting their lives at risk,” Murphy said.
Murphy was specifically referring to remarks Allen made on the New Jersey Globe Power Hour on Saturday, where she said that she voted for Donald Trump in part because she was frightened by immigrants allegedly bringing Covid across the country’s southern border.
“I mean, right now, look at all these people with Covid who are coming across the border, and it scares me,” she said. “They’re put on buses. I suspect some of them are coming up to New Jersey – not a good idea.”
Allen’s claim was made without evidence; a similar claim made by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was rated “False” by nonpartisan fact-checker PolitiFact.
“It’s just fantasyland. Folks are saying stuff and believing stuff that’s just not true,” Murphy insisted. “Irresponsible behavior, irresponsible words – actions or words that are not based on fact have to be called out.”
Several hours after Murphy criticized Allen, the Ciattarelli campaign released its own statement defending her remarks and pointing to an NBC News story from March, which detailed how some Covid-positive immigrants intended on traveling to New Jersey, among other states.
“I spent a good portion of my career in journalism and always went through great pains to ensure that the information I conveyed was accurate,” Allen said in the statement. “I would encourage Governor Murphy to do the same.”
This story was updated at 2:37 p.m. with additional comment from Murphy, and again at 4:56 p.m. with a statement from the Ciattarelli campaign. It was updated for a third time at 4:46 p.m. on August 10 to better reflect Allen’s original comments.