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Chief of Staff to the Governor George Helmy. (Photo: courtesy of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee)

Murphy took George Helmy’s desk

‘George is actually now working on the sidewalk out front of the building,’ governor jokes

By Nikita Biryukov, July 02 2020 2:43 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy looked to his top staffer to replace former President Woodrow Wilson’s desk.

“The desk is in storage, and I took George Helmy’s desk,” Murphy said Wednesday. “And I’m not sure he’s happy about it.”

Murphy gave up the desk that Wilson used as governor from 1911 to 1913 on Saturday, citing the former president’s “uneven history as it relates to race.”

Washington offices of the U.S. Postal Service the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Treasury were segregated shortly after he took federal office in 1913.

It’s not clear how Murphy obtained the desk, not even to the governor.

“I believe it was always the governor’s desk in New Jersey and it was getting repaired, but I’ve been using it for quite some time,” he said Thursday. “But it is in storage, and it is unlikely to reemerge.”

Former Gov. Chris Christie used a different desk, as did Govs. Christine Todd Whitman and James E. McGreevey.

Helmy took the bill signing desk that sometimes appears in the media room at the governor’s office as a temporary replacement, but that didn’t stop Murphy and Matt Platkin, the governor’s chief counsel, from having some fun at the chief of staff’s expense.

“George is actually now working on the sidewalk out front of the building,” the governor said when asked whether Helmy was not working from a seat on the ground.

Platkin’s quip hit even quicker.

“He’s standing,” the chief counsel said.

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