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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy won’t discuss Military and Veterans Affairs staff shakeup

By Nikita Biryukov, October 19 2020 2:25 pm

This story was updated with comment from Ciattarelli at 3:40 p.m.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday declined to comment at major staffing changes at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

“I will not have any more comment on personnel matters,” he said after wishing departing Adjutant General Jamal Beale well. “Our mission remains to ensure the strongest leadership at the department for our active troops and for our honored veterans once their days of service are over.”

The New Jersey Globe on Friday first reported Beale’s resignation. Coupled with that news was the administration’s removal of administrators at state veterans’ homes in Paramus and Menlo Park. Most of the residents in those homes contracted the virus, and 143 residents died of the virus in the two facilities.

Murphy did not address the removal of the veterans’ homes administrators.

Col. Lisa Hou, a physician and the deputy commission of Veterans Affairs, was named to replace Beale as interim adjutant general.

Earlier this year, Murphy repeatedly declined to comment on the firing of former Assistant Health Commissioner Chris Neuwirth, who has since sued the administration after his termination, claiming Murphy’s office retaliated against him for refusing to personally administer COVID-19 test to family members of the governor’s chief of staff.

The administration denies those allegations.

Murphy silence on the growing number of administration officials whose responsibilities included some form of pandemic response drew criticism from his one confirmed Republican challenger.

“Of course this Governor doesn’t want to comment on personnel matters. Who wants to talk about their mistakes? Unfortunately for you, and us, Governor — your mistakes have consequences,” former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli said. “Thousands of seniors and veterans have died as a result of your mismanagement. The truth is, these are not simply questions of personnel; they are questions of life and death. It is the job of the press to ask them, and it is your job, Governor, to answer them. The families of those who died deserve answers. Frankly, so do the rest of us.”

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