TOMS RIVER, NJ – Three legislators who proposed a $15,000 fine against residents of New Jersey who violated Governor Phil Murphy’s ban on large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic have received the nomination to run for re-election by the Ocean County Republican Organization’s screening committee.
Senator James Holzapfel, Assemblyman John Catalano, and Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin got the nomination from the once-powerful county screening committee. That screening committee has had a difficult time trying to influence the party at-large to endorse candidates since GOP Chairman Frank B. Holman took control of the party in 2019.
“There have been a number of large public gatherings since the Governor has issued the stay-at-home order, and we feel violators should face significant consequences for failure to comply with a directive that’s necessary to save lives,” stated Senator Holzapfel. “During this public health crisis, the executive order mandating social distancing should not be taken lightly. Mass gatherings during this pandemic put an unnecessary strain on an already fragile healthcare system, create risk for responding law enforcement officers, and threaten the lives of participants.”
“There must be a stronger penalty for violating the social distancing orders during this outbreak,” said Assemblyman McGuckin. “The strong financial penalties that would be imposed by our legislation should discourage people from hosting gatherings in violation of the prohibition during this crisis.”
“To combat the spread of this disease, we must adhere to the Governor’s orders to stay at home and distance ourselves from our friends and family,” added Assemblyman Catalano. “We know that socially distancing is hard, but it’s critically necessary to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus in a way that would overwhelm our hospitals and result in the unnecessary loss of life. We hope that a substantial fine will make individuals think twice if they are considering to host a party or have friends over.”
The bill never made it to a vote in Trenton. It didn’t have much support from Trenton Democrats or Republicans and was eventually pulled by the trio as one of the biggest political fiascos in Trenton in 2020, outside of Governor Phil Murphy’s actual lockdowns.’
McGuckin has also come under fire during the pandemic for his law firm taking a nearly $200,000 PPP loan meant for small businesses despite his firm having an estimated $4,000,000 in annual public pay-to-play contracts that went mostly unaffected during the pandemic. In fact, McGuckin picked up a new contract in Toms River, valued at an estimated $500,000 annually during the pandemic.