Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-Wyckoff) announced this morning that he plans to introduce a resolution to impeach Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo, whose department has come under fire from both parties for its handling of unemployment claims during the pandemic.
“Enough is enough and it’s time for a change,” DePhillips said in a statement. “Because of his incompetency, lawmakers have essentially turned their offices into satellite unemployment offices. What’s more, when the unemployed find their way to us, they are at their wits’ end and facing utility shutoffs, foreclosure and eviction.”
Last week, the State Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on Gov. Phil Murphy to address the unemployment backlog and fully reopen state government offices. Just minutes after the resolution was passed, Asaro-Angelo announced that some of the state’s One-Stop Career Centers would reopen for services by appointment only, but DePhillips insisted today that the partial reopening is insufficient.
“The labor commissioner is simply adding insult to injury,” he said. “Our unemployed residents deserve undivided attention and unlimited in-person help so they can receive the payments they rightfully earned. It is what the Labor Department is supposed to do and since it’s not happening, the commissioner must go.”
Asaro-Angelo will appear before the Senate Labor Committee this afternoon at 1 p.m. to testify on “the current status of New Jersey’s unemployment insurance system and the misclassification of workers.”
Asaro-Angelo is the second member of Murphy’s cabinet to be threatened with impeachment. The first was former Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks, whose handling of the allegations of abuse and mistreatment at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women caused outcry from members of both parties last summer; Murphy ultimately ousted him before any formal impeachment proceedings could begin.
But it seems unlikely that Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-South Amboy) will be motivated to move forward with DePhillips’ proposed impeachment of Asaro-Angelo, who has faced criticism but no obvious major scandal. History is also on Asaro-Angelo’s side, as no New Jersey cabinet member has ever been successfully impeached.