TOMS RIVER, NJ – A source close to New Jersey Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin this week said the legislator’s March 2020 bill imposing $15,000 fines against all New Jersey residents violating Governor Phil Murphy’s executive orders restricting public gatherings indoors and outdoors was directed at the Lakewood Township’s Orthodox Jewish community. We followed up with McGuckin through his legislative office email, but McGuckin refused to comment.
McGuckin was the sponsor of a March 2020 bill that sought to impose $15,000 fines against those who violated Governor Murphy’s executive orders restricting residents to stay in their homes and avoid public and private gatherings during the height of the pandemic. With the second wave of COVID-19, it’s not sure if McGuckin will reintroduce his bill this winter. McGuckin pulled the bill months after the height of the pandemic’s first wave subsided.
Now, it turns out, McGuckin’s bill was actually just targeting the Lakewood community. We reached out to McGuckin’s co-sponsors Brick Assemblyman John Catalano and James Holzapfel, both declined to comment on the claim made by McGuckin’s political media ally. In full disclosure, that ally is a twice-convicted fraudster, but we were sure the elected officials would act immediately to distance themselves from their close friend.
“Clearly the intent was to impose significant financial penalties for large gatherings such as were seen in Lakewood and other areas in New Jersey,” the McGuckin confidante said in a blog post this week.
Later, the confident back-peddled on his claim, “We are in no way implying that the bill was targeted at Lakewood but it certainly had to have been a consideration at the time.”
McGuckin’s bill was co-sponsored by Eric Houghtailing, Joann Downey, Sean T. Kean, Edward H. Thomson, Brian Rumpf and Diane Gove.
If McGuckin or any of the co-sponsors wish to dispute the claim made by McGuckin’s friend, this story will be updated.