Gov. Phil Murphy said today that former campaign advisors are free to speak about their experiences on his 2017 campaign, releasing them from non-disclosure agreements that don’t involve proprietary information.
That allows Julie Roginsky, a Democratic strategist who had begun advising Murphy in late 2013, to discuss complaints about workplace issues during the governor’s campaign.
“Although I’ve said it many times, I have directed lawyers from the campaign to make it clear to anyone that they are legally free to speak about workplace issues on the campaign,” Murphy said in a statement released this afternoon.
In a letter to Roginsky, Murphy for Governor attorney Paul Josephson confirmed that “if anyone – employees, volunteers, or consultants – would like to discuss workplace issues on his (Murphy’s) campaign, she or he is free to speak about it publicly.”
Murphy said that the confidentiality policy was designed purely to “protect proprietary information.”
“That’s been my position from day one. But there has clearly been a misunderstanding on this, both in press reports and among certain people that have been associated with the campaign,” the governor said. “I value anyone’s right to come forward with any concerns over workplace issues, and I will now ensure that there is no doubt that our deeds match our words.”
Still, the statement contradicts an email Josephson sent to Roginsky’s attorney in July.
It appears that Josephson opened a Pandora’s box by subpoenaing Roginsky to be deposed in a lawsuit filed by Katie Brennan, a former campaign volunteer who claims she was raped by Al Alvarez, a top Murphy for staffer who later served in the administration.
Roginsky’s lawyer, Gerald Krovatin, told Josephson that his client gladly be deposed in the Brennan case, as Josephson requested, especially since one the counts in the suit involved Brennan’s allegation that the Murphy campaign was a hotbed of toxicity for women.
That caused Josephson to back pedal.
“It is our position that Ms. Roginsky has been at all times and remains bound by the confidentiality provisions of the Agreement. Service of a subpoena does not constitute a waiver of her confidentiality obligations thereunder,” Josephson wrote in a July 15, 2019 e-mail obtained by the New Jersey Globe.
Krovatin disputed Josephson’s claim.
“With respect to the confidentiality provisions of the Agreement, we fundamentally disagree. I also think your client has waived them by issuing your subpoenas,” Krovatin wrote in a response to Josephson. “Regardless, it is clear that your client and the State are acting in concert on your respective subpoenas, so you will have to tell me in your longer response to my letter how my clients are supposed to comply with the State’s subpoena, and/or yours, without disclosing ‘confidential information’ to the State and to the Plaintiff. Good luck.”
That longer response never arrived, the Globe has learned.
The state later issued a subpoena that was identical to the one Josephson sent.
Krovatin and Josephson also engaged in a back-and-forth over service of the subpoena from the Murphy campaign, e-mails show.
“Your email makes clear that you are sadly uninformed about basic rules of civil procedure. The fact that Ms. Roginsky and/or I have received a copy of a subpoena, or have actual notice of it, is irrelevant on the issue of whether either of my clients has been properly served,” Krovatin wrote. “I know you are not admitted in New York, but you might want to have someone review for you the interplay between CPLR Sections 3119(c), 2303 and 308(2). You will see that leaving a subpoena with someone’s doorman at her home address is, without more, ineffective service.”
In an interview with the Star-Ledger last week, Roginsky claimed that Murphy was “preventing me and other women from publicly exposing men in his campaign who created what I believe is the most toxic workplace environment I have ever seen in 25 years of working on political campaigns.”
Roginsky was the architect of Murphy’s early political strategy following his resignation as U.S. Ambassador to Germany in 2013 and his emergence as a candidate for governor. She helped Murphy hire other consultants and senior campaign aides at a time when Murphy was widely viewed as the number three candidate in the race behind Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop and Senate President Steve Sweeney.