Editor’s Note: Oliver clarified her comments later Monday. That clarification has been added at the bottom of the article.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver compared Gov. Phil Murphy’s family foundation to the Trump Foundation, which was shuttered for self-dealing and illegally coordinating with President Donald Trump’s campaign.
“I’m trying to restrain myself, but many of you who know me, you know I can’t control myself, so please forgive me chairwoman,” Oliver said. “But I don’t think any contribution or charitable support that the Murphy Foundation provides to any charitable organization is any different than what the Trump Foundation provides, so I don’t want to engage in that conversation, respectfully.”
Oliver, testifying before the Assembly Budget Committee in her role as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, was asked by Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz if Murphy had a conflict of interest because his family foundation had given repeatedly to Fair Share Housing Development.
The group sues municipalities in order to force them plan and zone for affordable housing.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Oliver compared Murphy’s foundation to Trump’s, but the comparison isn’t one that does Murphy a service.
The Trump Foundation was ordered to dissolve in December 2018 after reaching a deal with the New York Attorney General.
Among other things, the Trump foundation purchased a $10,000 portrait of the man that was displayed at one of his golf clubs, an apparent violation of self-dealing laws that such charities abide by.
The Trump foundation also gave to charities that then rented Trump Organization facilities, used charitable funds to settle legal the disputes of the Trump Foundation and coordinated foundations with the Trump campaign.
Later Monday, Oliver clarified her statement.
“During today’s Assembly budget hearing, when I was questioned about charitable contributions, I was making the point that it is perfectly acceptable for a private family foundation to contribute to an organization or cause that they support,” Oliver said. “This is something that I believe all people, regardless of political affiliation, can agree on. However, there is a clear difference between The Phil and Tammy Murphy Family Foundation, which has a long and proud history of supporting important local charities and non-profits, and the Trump Foundation, which has a troubling record of violating state and federal charitable laws.”