Carol Murphy gets it wrong

Carol Murphy was never considered the sharpest knife in the drawer — but intellectual superiority has never really been a prerequisite to a long and successful career in politics. Despite her limitations, she has won elections to the Township Committee, Board of Freeholders, and State Assembly — and an appointment as a state Board of Public Utilities Commissioner — in a political career that spanned more than 25 years.

The 74-year-old Murphy showed up at a candidate forum last week to complain about one of the candidates seeking her old Assembly seat — conservative Jay Webber. She accused Webber of improperly taking credit for a Republican State Committee lawsuit arguing unconstitutional state bonding. Murphy, the Daily Record's Fred Snowflack said in weekend column, was accusing Webber of " taking credit for something he had not done." Webber, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle — a huge firm — had to explain to Murphy that just because he wasn't the lead attorney didn't mean he wasn't involved. "I did the work. It's exactly accurate (what I said). You're just flat wrong."

Murphy didn't seem to care that Webber's client, Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce, was at the same forum. Twice, DeCroce confirmed that Webber was their lawyer.

Mark Sheridan, the Republican State Committee Counsel, futher validated Webber's active involvement in the GOP suit:

I write with respect to your post regarding Ms. Murphy's questions to Jay Webber at the candidate forum held last week. While I have no desire to interpose myself or Drinker Biddle & Reath into the fray between Jay Webber and Ms. Murphy, I feel compelled to make certain that the record of Mr. Webber's involvement in Lance v. McGreevey and Lance v. Codey is not distorted.

Drinker Biddle & Reath was retained to represent Senator Leonard Lance, Assemblyman Alex DeCroce and Senator Joseph Kyrillos in Lance v. McGreevey, a suit regarding the constitutionality of balancing the budget through the use of bond proceeds. I acted as lead counsel in that matter. Aside from myself, Jay Webber and another Drinker associate, Andrew White, bore primary responsibility for our submissions to the trial court and the Supreme Court. Jay drafted and edited entire sections of our briefs including arguments that eventually that formed the basis of the Supreme Court's decision. He also directed the research conducted by other associates working on the file. His involvement was not simply that of being an associate with the firm at the time the matter was heard. I have attached a copy of the Supreme Court's decision in Lance v. McGreevey and you will note that Jay is listed as "on the brief" on the front page of the opinion.

With respect to Lance v. Codey, Jay's role was even more significant than in Lance v. McGreevey. While I acted as lead counsel and argued the matter before the court, Jay was the primary drafter of the briefs that were submitted to the trial court. As the attached trial court opinion demonstrates, Jay and I were the only two attorneys at Drinker Biddle & Reath to work on Lance v. Codey.

It is my hope that this will answer any questions regarding the extent of Mr. Webber's involvement in either Lance v. McGreevey or Lance v. Codey.

Murphy and Webber have a history together. When Webber challenged State Senator Robert Martin in the 2003 GOP primary, Murphy stood up at a candidates night to complain about Webber's campaign literature. "No more crap, no more crap," Murphy, a Martin supporter, told Webber. Martin won that race partly because he attacked Webber for events he had no control over: personal campaign contributions from Drinker Biddle partners to the 2002 re-election campaign of U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli.

Carol Murphy gets it wrong