‘I’m Going to an Event’: Coughlin Won’t Commit to Passing Civilian Review Board Bill


WOODBRIDGE – On his way into a fundraising event for Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37), Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) would not say tonight whether he will post legislation this year authorizing municipalities to create civilian review boards with full subpoena power to oversee law enforcement.

Coughlin told InsiderNJ that the Assembly had passed it out of committee.

But the speaker would not commit to moving the legislation in 2021, as many leaders, including state Senators Ronald L. Rice (D-28) and Shirley Turner (D-15), Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, and Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp, press for lawmakers to move on the bill and for Governor Phil Murphy to sign it into law.

A-4656, sponsored by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) of Jersey City, became a focal point on the streets at events helmed by New Jersey civil rights activist Larry Hamm and others in the aftermath of a jury handing a guilty verdict to former cop Derek Chauvin, who last year murdered Minnesotan George Floyd.

“We’re working on the, uh; we passed it out of committee,” said Coughlin, in a brace of Democratic establishment players including Bergen County Democratic Committee Chairman Paul Juliano and state Senator Joe Lagana (D-36), as they headed for Il Castello’s on Main Street in Woodbridge for a $500 per-head fundraiser for Johnson and his slate running in the June 8th Democratic Primary.

Johnson’s off-the-line opponent, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) was an early backer of the bill.

Johnson last month was unable to answer InsiderNJ’s question about his position.

InsiderNJ asked Coughlin if he intends to move the bill for passage this year.

“I’m going to an event,” the speaker said.

Pressed for an answer, “We passed it out of committee; we go through a full and thorough process,” he said.

Johnson enjoys a big, hefty portion of the party establishment toward his candidacy, on display here tonight at the power function. He even has Governor Murphy in his corner.

The battleground North Jersey assemblyman has routinely spoken of the value of his political relationships. Has LD37 senate candidate asked the speaker to pass the bill, InsiderNJ asked Coughlin.

“I’m not going to talk about conversations I have,” the speaker said, as he and his allies walked into the event for the LD37 senate candidate co-hosted by Juliano and Middlesex County Democratic Committee Chairman Kevin McCabe.

For the brief exchange, please view the video posted below:

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