NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Avoids Override by Agreeing to Sign Dark Money Bill

Gov. Phil Murphy avoided the embarrassment of being the first state governor in more than two decades to suffer a veto override by agreeing to a deal where he will sign the bill he initially rejected.

Phil Murphy Offers Compromise Regarding Tax Hikes
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for William Hill Race & Sports Bar

Gov. Phil Murphy avoided the embarrassment of being the first state governor in more than two decades to suffer a veto override by agreeing to a deal where he will sign the bill he initially rejected.

NJ.com reports that the legislature sent Murphy a bill identical to the one he’d rejected that will force “dark money” political groups to disclose who provides their funding. Under an agreement with legislative leaders, Murphy is expected to quickly sign the bill. The governor’s office has said Murphy agreed to sign the bill on the understanding that the legislature will later revisit the measure to address Murphy’s concerns about the bill, according to NJ.com. Senate President Steve Sweeney, however, said he knew of no such agreement, while Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said he’s always willing to tweak legislation, according to the report.

If Murphy signs the new bill, it will be yet another defeat at the hands of the legislature, which is controlled by Murphy’s party but has stymied much of his progressive agenda.

The dark money bill was largely seen as Sweeney attacking Murphy and those in his inner circle in response to ads funded by the group New Direction New Jersey. The group has run ads supporting Murphy but refuses to name its donors. Reports, however, have indicated that one big donor is the state’s powerful teacher’s union, a close ally of Murphy’s and a bitter enemy of Sweeney’s.

The bill had received near unanimous support in the legislature, with the Senate voting 33-0 and the Assembly 66-2. That meant a veto override was all but certain. If that had happened, it would have been the first time in 22 years that the state legislature has overridden a veto.

Quote of the Day: “Inevitably, when you pass a bill as big as this, there may be some things that have to be looked at in the future, and we’re always willing to do that,” — Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.

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