Tax return: Murphy’s wealth comes from diverse investments

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

To be clear, neither the Guadagnos nor the Murphys are hurting for cash. In a state where the median family income is $87,389, both candidates for governor far exceed that. Kim Guadagno’s family income for 2016 was $306,375. Not bad by most standards. But Phil Murphy? His income of $4,627,353 is well above the state’s median. And every chance she gets, Kim Guadagno reminds us.

This week, the Democrat’s campaign released a summary of the Murphys’ joint income tax return. But for a deeper dig, the campaign only let reporters get a peek, behind closed doors, in a conference room at the Hilton in Newark.

The campaign gave the media two hours to look through the documents.

No cameras were allowed inside, but members of the media were able to look at around 60 pages worth of returns, which showed holdings in a wide variety of companies, mostly through investment funds. Those companies included Merck, Cigna, CVS, Coca Cola, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Simon Properties, New Corp., Gannett, Disney, and a bunch of other banks, energy companies and retailers.

They paid half a million in income tax and just over $200,000 in real estate taxes. Their refund, if they didn’t apply it to next year’s taxes, would’ve been $692,000. The family lists $175,000 in charitable contributions.

I discussed the the ambassador’s investment philosophy with our Business Correspondent Rhonda Schaffler.

Cruz: What can we tell about the ambassador’s investment philosophy from what we just read?

Schaffler: He’s clearly very well diversified. There were hundreds of companies that he’s got funds invested in, so we don’t see a concentration in one particular group. Most of his income was from capital gains, so that’s from his investments.

Cruz: In fact, zero salary.

Schaffler: That’s correct. The other thing was interest.

Murphy says, if he wins, his dough will go into a blind trust. On Friday, his opponent Guadagno kept up the criticism of Murphy’s wealth.

“One, he didn’t work a day to earn that money, and two, we don’t know how he earned that money, so we don’t know whether or not he made his multimillions of dollars profiting off of gun manufacturers or fracking companies. That’s a little bit about what we know,” said Guadagno.

It’s likely that with investments in so many companies, Murphy’s wet his beak in fracking and other things that might raise a hackle from his opponent. But four days before Election Day, the biggest revelation gleaned from a two-hour perusal of his family tax returns, is that Phil Murphy is a very rich man. Which doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone.