Muoio Hearing Debacle Undercuts New NJGOP Chairman (And Reminds Us Why Democrats Control Trenton)

By Matt Rooney
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Want to know why the NJGOP can’t seem to win? Anything?

On a day that saw new gun control laws and job-killing regulations approved in the State House, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced not one but two Murphy cabinet nominees, arguably the most consequential of which was his future treasurer: Elizabeth Muoio.

Former Assemblywoman Muoio is a career politician, tax-and-spend-and-borrow liberal, public sector labor union shill, supporter of Phil Murphy’s ruinous approach to our pension system AND, to make things just a little bit more interesting since all of those other things aren’t unique in Trenton, she also saw $33 million in grants go missing on her watch as a Middlesex County elected official. Scary stuff! Particularly at a time when New Jersey’s finances are already a notorious basket case. 

Muoio failed to satisfactorily explain herself.

“Mercer County is one of five counties with a county executive form of government. So the financial statements and operating functions of the departments fall under the jurisdiction, not of the freeholders like in many counties, but fall under the jurisdiction of the county executive. The county executive is the one in charge of the finance office,” said Muoio, passing the buck.

“You said your expertise was working closely on the budget, but you weren’t aware of these gaps or mistakes back in 2002,” shot back Corrado.

“The audit for 2004 when I was in the freeholder board was an audit of the 2002 budget year, which was the year that Bob Prunetti was county executive, so it was a Republican administration. Basically, going through the audit was the way we found out what was happening with county expenditures,” responded Muoio.

“You can’t say, ‘I didn’t know my budget,’ or, ‘It wasn’t my responsibility because we had a county executive at the time,’” Corrado continued. “You voted on that budget, it’s your responsibility to know what’s in it. And if there’s discrepancies, it’s your responsibility to find out why.”

Yikes, right?

Democrats control the judiciary committee by a solid 7-4 margin (and don’t really care about lost money provided it’s taxpayer cash and not their own), so Muoio’s nomination was never in serious doubt.

So the vote was at least… 7-4, right?

Nope! Wrong. This is New Jersey.

The vote was 10-0 with one abstention (that of Kristin Corrado, the freshman senator who made an issue of Muoio’s missing $33 million in the first place and, as you just read, tried to shake Muoio up on the record).

The other GOP members — Mike Doherty, Kip Bateman and Gerry Cardinale — voted to advance Muoio to a full Senate vote notwithstanding all of the concerning issues raised above, disqualifying factors each in their own right, but also the fact that their new party chairman – Doug Steinhardt of Warren County – went to bat for Corrado with a strong call for Muoio to be voted down.

“Moody’s warning is a clear sign that we need a more qualified Treasurer to challenge Governor Murphy’s liberal spending plans,” said Steinhardt in a pre-hearing statement. “I call on the State Senate to post Liz Muoio‘s hearing, vote her down, and put someone in that office with a proper sense of fiscal responsibility.  New Jersey’s 9 million residents deserve nothing less.”

“Less” is exactly what New Jersey continues to get from its opposition party.

No unity.

No instincts.

No cohesive messaging when an opportunity to take a strong stand — and create a strong contrast — for the taxpayers presents itself.

And by the way – did I miss the outpouring of willfully blind bipartisan love for Chris Christie’s nominees? 

Forget beating Phil Murphy and his party at the ballot box, Save Jerseyans. That’s now step 15. Far, far down the road I’m afraid.

Step #1? Building an ACTUAL opposition that is capable of opposing something worth opposing!