Grassroots Groups Call for Criminal Investigation into Norcross Brothers over EDA scandal

Organizations representing consumers, communities, families, small businesses, immigrants, environmental advocacy, and workers from dozens of fields and industries sign letter urging the NJ legislature to pass a millionaire’s tax either as part of Governor Phil Murphy’s proposed 2020 state budget or separately as its own piece of legislation.
Grassroots Groups Call for Criminal Investigation into Norcross Brothers over EDA scandal
Coalition of 12 groups send letter to state and federal prosecutors detailing potential corruption

A coalition of 12 grassroots groups from across New Jersey sent a letter to state and federal prosecutors today calling for a criminal investigation into George, Phil and Donald Norcross as a result of the ongoing scandal over the awarding of billions of dollars in tax subsidies that is currently playing out in Trenton.

The letter was sent in the wake of a bombshell story that appeared in this morning’s Bergen Record that traced millions of dollars in contributions of tax credit recipients to General Majority PAC, a political group tied to George Norcross.

The report is just the latest in a long string of troubling news that connect Norcross-affiliated entities to the scandal consuming the Economic Development Authority, which awarded $1.1 billion worth of tax credits to companies connected to George Norcross.

And it follows disclosure by an investigative task force convened by Governor Murphy showing that Kevin Sheehan, an attorney working at Phil Norcross’ law firm, was instrumental in writing the Economic Opportunity Act, the law which authorized these tax subsidies.

Meanwhile, then-state Sen. Donald Norcross was a sponsor of the legislation.

The advocacy groups, led by the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, are asking New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal to work with prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s offices in New Jersey and Philadelphia to get to the bottom of the Norcross brothers’ involvement in the scandal.

“The past few months have uncovered a wealth of troubling evidence about the dirty deals underlying this tax incentive program,” said Working Families New Jersey State Director Sue Altman. “At the center of this scandal are people tied to the Norcross brothers. State and federal prosecutors need to work together to uncover the truth about how this law was passed and who it was designed to benefit.”

The signatories of the letter — from Collingswood Progressive Democrats to Our Revolution Essex County — demonstrate that interest in this issue has spread far beyond South Jersey and has drawn interest from across the state.

“If the last few months of reporting and investigations have shown us anything about George Norcross’ vice-grip hold on the EDA and New Jersey politics, it is that there is still more to be uncovered here,” said Saily Avelenda, Executive Director of NJ 11th for Change. “We support New Jersey Working Family’s call for criminal investigations of the Norcross family enterprise because we deserve answers. The people of New Jersey deserve to know how far the Norcross family influence extends, and to what extent the legislators representing them in the statehouse and the halls of Congress are part of that network. We demand transparence and accountability at all levels of our government, and if we are ever going to achieve that, we need to start with George Norcross.”

The letter lays out a four-phase case for a criminal investigation, beginning with passage of the Economic Opportunity Act in 2013 and moving onto apparently falsified tax credit applications to the state and an incestuous web of seeming kickbacks to Norcross-affiliated entities and concluding with an attempted cover up by Norcross’ allies in the Legislature that make the need for an independent investigation even more clear.

The letter notes that while the Office of Attorney General has already announced an investigation into the tax credit program more broadly, “we believe there is specific evidence in the public domain to focus on the Norcross family. And we believe that the scope of the problems uncovered point to the need for a coordinated investigation at the state and federal levels.”

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