POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Judge does not grant injunction on tax incentive task force case

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

Gov. Murphy’s dispute with South Jersey power broker George Norcross over those controversial EDA tax breaks had its day in Mercer County Criminal Court. After hours of arguments, the presiding judge, Mary Jacobson sided with the Murphy administration and did not grant an injunction.

At issue, should Murphy’s EDA task force be allowed to continue its work, including issuing an interim report. On one hand, George Norcross and several corporate entities based in Camden, say that the task force has exceeded its authority and is targeting private individuals like them and not the EDA.

“Whenever you are denying the opportunity to confront one’s accusers, whenever you are truncating their ability to make a full and fair presentation in their defense, you are of course violating their constitutional rights,” said Kevin Marino, attorney for Parker McKay. “We don’t think we’re a proper subject, we don’t think you’re examining the affairs or the management of even the EDA — which we don’t think is state agency — but be that as it may, if you’re going to do that, let us cross examine.”

“You will impact the law of this state for many, many years. Your decision will have enormous precedental value. It will determine what a governor may do or not do in terms of agencies which are in but not of the state,” said Herbert Stern, attorney for Cooper University Health Care.

On the other hand, the governor’s side says that they’re trying to hide information that has to do with hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds.

“You’re trying suppress important, fundamental information from the public under the guise now of the possibility that their clients may be mentioned,” said Ted Wells, an attorney for the governor. “This is a radical, unprecedented ruling that they are asking you to make. Radical and unprecedented. The governor has every right to hold a hearing. This is voluntary information that they got from the EDA.”

“We are talking about issues of the public purse — hundreds of millions of dollars going back to 2017 under Gov. Christie when this was identified. So nobody can say that this is something Gov. Murphy invented,” Wells added.