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Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick. (Photo: Assembly Republicans.)

Bramnick: Murphy should say why Neuwirth was fired unless barred by law

‘A government should be 100% transparent unless there’s a legal reason not to answer a question,’ minority leader says

By Nikita Biryukov, June 04 2020 10:59 am

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick said Gov. Phil Murphy should disclose the reasons for the firing of a senior Department of Health official unless specifically barred by law from doing so.

“Assuming there’s no prohibition under the law, then of course. A government should be 100% transparent unless there’s a legal reason not to answer a question,” Bramnick said. “So, the answer is yes unless an attorney can argue to me, based on employment law, that there’s a prohibition on releasing that information.”

Christopher Neuwirth, the former assistant commissioner of Public Health Infrastructure, Laboratories and Emergency Preparedness, was abruptly fired from his $127,386-a-year job on May 28.

Murphy has, so far, repeatedly declined to say why Neuwirth was fired, citing a policy that bars comment on personnel issues.

The New Jersey Globe first reported Neuwirth’s ouster last week.

There’s been some speculation—backed up by several sources—that Neuwirth was separated from his public-sector position because of a side job at Margolis Healy & Associates, a national emergency management consulting firm that is affiliated with the Cozen O’Connor law firm and was not noted on Neuwirth’s financial disclosure.

Sources have told the New Jersey Globe that the firm took up a growing share of Neuwirth’s time as the COVID-19 crisis worsened, and he faced some criticism over attendance at his government job.

He was also on a list of officials suspected of leaking embarrassing information about the inner workings of the department to the press.

Neuwirth’s inclusion on that list was first reported by the (Bergen) Record.

There’s been no indication on either charge from the administration, though Murphy has confirmed an investigation into leaks at the department of health.

The governor on Tuesday even declined to say whether Neuwirth put New Jerseyans in harm’s way before he was terminated.

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