Home>Feature>Murphy to name Platkin as attorney general

Matt Platkin, Gov. Phil Murphy's chief counsel and his pick to serve as attorney general of New Jersey. (Photo: NJ PBS/On the Record via YouTube).

Murphy to name Platkin as attorney general

Governor plans announcement on Thursday of former chief counsel

By David Wildstein, February 02 2022 6:47 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy will announce the nomination of Matthew J. Platkin, his former chief counsel and a close confidante, to serve as the next Attorney General on Thursday, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.

Platkin will succeed Andrew Bruck, who became acting attorney general last July after Gurbir Grewal resigned to join the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bruck had been a finalist for the post, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamel Semper and Assemblyman John F. McKeon (D-West Orange).

Four others had received some consideration: former acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig; former First Assistant Attorney General Ricardo Solano; Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes; and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Vartan.

Since late 2020, Platkin has been a partner at Lowenstein Sandler, a major North Jersey law firm.

The timetable for Platkin taking office is not clear.  He is expected to be named acting attorney general as he awaits Senate confirmation, but there is expected to be a brief transition period between Platkin and Bruck.

If confirmed by the Senate, he would become the state’s 56th attorney general and serve a term that would expire on January 20, 2026.

Platkin became chief counsel to the governor in January 2018, taking office the day Murphy did.  He has been one of Murphy’s top aides since 2016, when he joined New way for New Jersey, Murphy’s non-profit, in 2016.  He served as policy director for the Murphy for Governor campaign in 2017.

At age 35, Platkin would become the youngest attorney general since Gov. Brendan Byrne nominated 33-year-old John Degnan in 1978.  Anne Milgram, now the administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, was 36 when Gov. Jon Corzine nominated her in 2007, and Gov. Christine Todd Whitman picked 37-year-old Peter Verniero as attorney general in 1996.

The state’s first attorney general, William Paterson, was just 31 when he took office in 1776.

His nomination would also continue a trend of the governor’s chief counsel eventually becoming attorney general.  Eight of the last 11 attorneys general who were nominated after the governor’s first year had served as chief counsel.  Another, Milgram, had served as Corzine’s chief counsel when he was in the U.S. Senate.

Platkin left the post briefly for three weeks in early 2021 join U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s staff on a short-term basis during the Senate trial of President Donald Trump.   Platkin first became involved in politics volunteering for Booker’s first Senate race in 2013.

A graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Law School, he was an editor of the Stanford Law Review.   He worked at Debevoise & Plimpton, a New York firm, taking a job on the governor’s race at a time when Murphy was, at best, the number three candidate in the field.

Platkin began an interest in politics at an early age.  As a 17-year-old junior at Madison High School, Platkin penned an op-ed for the Daily Record on the day Gov. James E. McGreevey delivered his 2004 State of the State address outlining what he would do if he were governor of New Jersey.

He pushed for more funding for stem cell research and education, proposed a ban on hand-held cell phones, and asked McGreevey to help keep the Nets in New Jersey by giving them a new arena in Newark.

Former Attorney General Christopher Porrino praised Murphy’s selection of Platkin.

“I have had the privilege of calling Matt my friend and partner, and he is a brilliant lawyer and legal strategist,” Porrino said on Twitter.  “Matt will serve our state well as NJ’s 62nd Attorney General.”

Bill Castner, a former chief counsel to Gov. Jon Corzine and a top Murphy political advisor, called Platkin a “brilliant, ethical and bold attorney.”

“He loves this State, is a natural leader and has been on a mission to effectuate change, including helping (Governor Murphy)  lead the nation on gun safety,” Castner said on Twitter.  “Jersey loves a fighter and will love Matt Platkin as AG.”

Murphy has scheduled an announcement for 11 AM on Thursday.

This story was updated at 7:00 PM with comment from Porrino and at 8:29 with comment from Castner. 

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