Murphy’s bid to seize despotic control of N.J.’s elections (!) stalls for now

The far-Left quality of Governor Phil Murphy’s agenda understandably gets most of the attention, but it’s his totalitarian tendencies which deserve more scrutiny. We’re talking about a man who, during the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic, dismissively admitted to not giving a shit about the Bill of Rights when he decided to close churches for worship and criminally charged citizens for “mass gatherings” while breaking his own rules to march with BLM protesters.

Arbitrary application of the law is any free society’s gravest civic sin, or at least it should be.

Murphy’s behavior didn’t end with the Covid-19 lockdowns. Just this week, legislative allies were forced to pump the brakes on a proposal which, if adopted as-is, would have given Murphy de facto control of New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission (popularly known as “ELEC”). The provisions include demolishing local pay-to-play laws, significantly shrinking the statute of limitations for violations, and arguably the most obviously naked power grab of all, empowering the governor (Phil Murphy) to appoint and remove the ELEC executive director, a role currently reserved to the commissioners who are supposed to be evenly split by party affiliation. Murphy has left one GOP seat open by choice since his 2021 reelection campaign. Want to guess why? 

“Unfortunately, this bill is not an attempt at transparency. It is using transparency as a mask for the unmitigated greed of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee,” explained Assemblymen Antwan McClellan (R-1) and Brian Bergen (R-25) in a point-by-point rebuttal issued by the minority party last week.

But it’s not just Republicans complaining about the majority party over-stepping. This latest power grab was so outrageous that it drew a direct condemnation from ELEC’s bipartisan membership.

“Regardless of which party controls the governor’s office, executive directors appointed by one party, or under the constant threat of termination, would be more susceptible to blocking investigations of their party’s candidates or committees while targeting those of the opposing party. And of equal concern, an ELEC run by a political appointee could not investigate or bring enforcement actions against campaigns conducted by the opposing party without suspicion of partisan motives,” the members complained.

“ELEC must be fair and non-partisan in its actions. That is how it has always operated, and it must continue to do so,” they added.

You can be sure that a carefully reworded bill WILL reemerge at some point, because we all know there’s nothing democratic about New Jersey Democrats. Winning is the name of the game, and they’ll do anything they can to achieve their ends even if it means exposing their January 6th rhetoric as self-serving hyprocrisy.

Meanwhile, Governor Murphy will continue to brazenly ignore the rule of law for as long as New Jerseyans permit him a majority in both houses of the legislature. Voters have a chance to change all of this in November. Will they seize the opportunity to rein in Murphy? History isn’t encouraging, but anyone who cares about the fundamental fairness needs to get off of the sidelines and work to check this tyrant before he succeeds in rigging our elections and, in so doing, transforms New Jersey into a permanent one-party state.

Matt Rooney
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MATT ROONEY is's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.