Today the New Jersey Globe published an article on a new poll paid for by New Direction New Jersey (NDNJ) that showed Governor Murphy getting extremely high marks for his handling of COVID and just about everything else. The Globe correctly notes that NDNJ is run by Murphy allies and that it advocates for Murphy’s agenda. The Globe also notes that the poll was conducted by a firm run by Murphy’s pollster (and perhaps not surprisingly Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney, a some-time opponent of Murphy’s, receives a negative favorability rating).
Yet, the Globe inexplicably ignores the fact that 70% of NDNJ’s funding comes from the NJEA (secretly until SPCNJ exposed it) and that, therefore, the NJEA essentially paid for the poll. The NJEA’s role is important because in addition to supporting Murphy’s agenda, NDNJ also advocates for the NJEA’s agenda – and in particular a millionaire’s tax.
Murphy’s prominent role with NDNJ – as a fundraiser and front-man in TV ads – means that Murphy is also playing a prominent role advocating for the NJEA’s agenda. Given that the NJEA was “all-in” for Murphy’s election in 2017, and clearly has been “all-in” in its funding of NDNJ, this raises serious conflict-of-interest issues. Yet the Globe steadfastly ignores this too-cozy relationship and its implications for the state. As is well understood, even the appearance of a conflict of interest is a problem, and this at the very least creates such an appearance.
For instance, re-opening schools is a huge issue for the state. The NJEA has come out with its own set of demands (the story by Politico’s Carly Sitrin is behind a paywall but there is a summary here) for re-opening that is more stringent than Murphy’s own guidelines. Where will the governor come down on this issue? Will the NJEA have undue influence on his decision? Would this be fair to New Jersey citizens? If the governor did not have such a cozy relationship with the NJEA, these conflict-of-interest questions would not exist.
The Globe’s blind spot for Murphy’s conflict of interest with the NJEA means that the Globe is incapable of asking these questions and thus that New Jersey citizens are less informed. Why the blind spot, New Jersey Globe?