Murphy Executive Order Tightens Gift Disclosure Loophole

Phil Murphy. Kevin B. Sanders for Observer

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Wednesday that tightens a gift disclosure loophole used by his predecessor, former Gov. Chris Christie.

Murphy’s second executive order narrows a loophole that allowed Christie to conceal gifts from people he claimed were friends on his personal financial disclosure forms. Under Murphy’s executive order, only those who’ve had a relationship with the governor for at least three years before he took office on Tuesday will be considered “long-time personal friends” whose gifts won’t be subject to disclosure.

Murphy signed the order in front of the press before his first meeting with cabinet members.

He said he wanted to establish a “bright line distinction between pre-existing relationships and folks that we’ve met in a political context.” In addition, he said the order will match federal rules that require gifts valued at $390 or more to be disclosed.

“If we knew you before Jan. 16, 2015, you’re in a different category than if we met you since then,” Murphy said. “And if we met you since then, and [the gift is] above that federal limit, it’s going to be subject to complete, 100 percent complete transparency and disclosure.”

He did not mention Christie during the signing event in Trenton, but his executive action addresses an issue that was controversial during the previous administration.

While governor, Christie didn’t disclose Dallas Cowboys game tickets he got from the football team’s wealthy owner, Jerry Jones, arguing he didn’t have to because Jones was a friend. Christie’s disclosure forms also never included a free hotel stay in Jordan that his family received in 2012, with the costs covered by King Abdullah II.

In addition to narrowing the gift loophole, Murphy’s executive order establishes other financial disclosure rules and restrictions for himself and top members of his administration.

Murphy Executive Order Tightens Gift Disclosure Loophole