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Gov. Phil Murphy. Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Murphy’s Inside/Outside calls discussed EDA

Chief Counsel was on calls

By David Wildstein, July 15 2019 10:26 am

The Murphy administration’s war on tax incentives and Democratic powerbroker George Norcross was a frequent topic on their Inside/Outside calls, a conference call held on most Fridays between senior members of the governor’s staff and their outside consulting team.

The New Jersey Globe has learned that Chief Counsel Matt Platkin was also occasionally on those calls.  Platkin was involved in the creation and litigation surrounding the Governor’s Task Force on EDA Tax Incentives.

According to a source deeply familiar with the workings of the weekly call, the outside consultants – all of whom have other clients with an interest in state government – were frequently told about other pending actions by Gov. Phil Murphy prior to the public having access to the same information not related to the task force.

At least one Murphy staffer intensely disliked the Friday calls, which one participant described as a bunch of outsiders berating them for doing a bad job.  The consultants viewed themselves at the top of the food chain, the staffer said.

That Murphy staffer said discussions about the EDA “loomed large on a lot of those calls.”

The governor’s office pushed back on the idea that the EDA probe was part of the discussion.

“This is a complete fabrication,” said Dan Bryan, a spokesman for Murphy.

Another source told the Globe that discussions about the EDA were centered on messaging.

Multiple sources said that the only conversation they heard where Platkin discussed the EDA was to advise all parties to have no communications regariding the task force.

Peter Cammarano, who served as Murphy’s Chief of Staff from 2018 to 2019, told the New Jersey Globe on Friday that he refused to participate on those calls.

While Cammarano was chief of staff, Steve DeMicco, Murphy’s political consultant, ran the Inside/Outside calls.

Now George Helmy, who became Chief of Staff to the governor earlier this year, opens the call.

The task force Murphy appointed by Murphy issued a earthshaking report last month finding that the EDA gave out billions in tax incentives during the administration of Gov. Chris Christie to recipients with political connections.

Platkin is the twelfth top Murphy staffer to be identified as participating on the calls.

The Globe reported last week that Helmy, Joe Kelley, Justin Braz, Greg Petzold, Deborah Cornavaca, Dan Bryan, Mahen Gunaratna. Kathleen Frangione, Alyana Alfaro Post, Derrick Greene and Stephanie Lagos were also Inside/Outside call participants.

Outside consultants on the all included: Steve DeMicco, Brad Lawrence, Brendan Gill, Adam Alonso and Jim McQueeny.

This story was updated at 11:38 AM.

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