Tuesday was not a good day for Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration, and it goes beyond a staffer going into great detail about how her allegations of rape were ignored.

Katie Brennen told members of a joint legislative investigative committee: “I had access to people in the highest positions of power in the state of New Jersey, and at each turn my pleas for help went unanswered. Somehow, it wasn’t a priority ... until it impacted them.”

Brennen, who is chief of staff for the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, did more than tell a horrific story of a rape victim who could find no one to hear her pleas for justice. Many State House insiders believe she laid bare a self-centered administration whose singular focus on a handful progressive ideals has blinded them from the process of actually running a government.

“He (Gov. Murphy) has brought in a group of kids who believe they can change the world. Their zeal in pursuing social reforms has made them incapable of actually governing,” one longtime lobbyist told me. Murphy did bring in a well-respected veteran political operative in Peter Cammarano to be his chief of staff, but another insider told me watching Pete manage that “kiddie corps” is like “trying to herd cats.” Multiple sources have told me Cammerano is likely to leave his position early next year.

By all accounts, Phil Murphy was a competent manager and motivator during his time as an executive at Goldman Sachs. As the ambassador to Germany, he had a reputation as a gregarious and charitable representative of the United States. Many in Trenton praise the governor for appointing an array of competent managers and commissioners, but say he has mostly left them to fend for themselves and describe Murphy as disconnected from the day-to-day operations of government.

As Katie Brennen detailed how her pleas for justice landed on deaf ears, many hoped it would serve as a wake-up call for Phil Murphy to shake-up his staff and prioritize actually running the government over the pursuit of a progressive social agenda.


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