New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

As Costly Private Pandemic Review Looms, Pennacchio’s Effort to Launch Bipartisan Legislative Investigation Blocked by Democrats

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On the floor of the New Jersey State Senate, Senator Joe Pennacchio today once again implored his Democrat colleagues to act on legislation that would convene a special committee with subpoena power to investigate the Executive Branch’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pennacchio (R-26) appealed to Senate to remove his resolution, SR-32, from committee and vote to enact the legislative investigative panel, but the motion was tabled by the majority Democrats.

“My Republican colleagues and I have been fighting for this investigation for years. It is desperately needed to uncover the effects of the State’s mandates and orders, and how they impacted the lives of New Jerseyans during the COVID pandemic,” Pennacchio said. “But today, for the sixth time since May of 2020, the Democrats denied our pleas.

“Rather than taking a leadership role in the quest for facts, truths and processes that allowed the horrific tragedy that swept through New Jersey’s veterans homes and senior facilities, the Democrats turned away, content in allowing a politically selected team of high-powered attorneys to drag their feet on an investigative whitewash that will cost our taxpayers millions of dollars,” noted a frustrated Pennacchio.

An “independent review” of the State’s pandemic response, long-promised by Governor Murphy, was finally announced last week, and a report in The Star-Ledger stated the process will cost $400-per-hour for work by partners and associates, and an hourly rate of $90 for paralegals and other staff.

“This will be a significant hit for New Jersey taxpayers, and it is completely unnecessary,” Pennacchio said. “Once again, however, politics has trumped good policy.”

Pennacchio added that much can be learned from the legal settlement the State agreed to committing almost $53 million to the families of more than 100 innocent people who died in State-controlled veterans homes.

“We need to discover what’s in the body of the settlement. There should be a lot of answers in there explaining what the state did, and why the state did it,” Pennacchio said. “That valuable information is available right now. Why are we paying a large, powerful, expensive team of lawyers to get at it.

“The Legislature, with a panel with subpoena power could access more reliable information, faster, and without the massive invoices,” Pennacchio continued.

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