New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: Murphy’s ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment

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Governor lacks empathy with suffering New Jersey citizens

As New Jersey businesses continue to struggle to survive under the state’s strangling coronavirus restrictions, the Governor who has ignored their pleas to safely open their doors joined a large protest march this weekend.

Senator Pennacchio criticized Governor Murphy for breaking his own coronavirus rules to participate in a protest march while New Jersey businesses suffer. (Photo from Gov. Murphy’s Facebook page)

“Murphy keeps telling us it’s too dangerous to conduct routine business,” said Senator Joe Pennacchio. “School’s can’t even hold graduations. The state’s economy is drowning under his arbitrary executive orders and edicts. His message to state residents comes through loud and clear. ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: Administration’s Failed COVID Response Had Led the Way to a Property Tax Increase

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Says The State’s Problem Is Not That We Are Not Taxed Enough, But That We Spend Too Damn Much

Senator Joe Pennacchio criticized the passage of A-4175 in the General Assembly. This legislation would allow up to $14 billion in new borrowing to cover operating expenses.

Senator Joe Pennacchio criticized the passage of A-4175 in the General Assembly. (Pixabay)

“The governor has yet to clearly define what our budgetary expenditures will be for the next thirteen months, yet proceeds to encourage legislative democrats to increase borrowing by $14 billion,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “The bill relies on hefty sales tax increases to cover the costs. If those costs are not covered, every homeowner in the state of New Jersey will be charged an additional surcharge on their already suffocating property taxes. It makes no sense to ask for the money first and then have the governor explain how he will spend it later.”

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Senator Declan O'Scanlon
Senator Joe Pennacchio
Senator Kristin Corrado
Senator Steve Oroho
Senator Tom Kean

Republican Senators Urge Sweeney to Issue Preservation Letters to Health Department

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Following troubling accusations of dysfunction and potential misconduct within the Department of Health, Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-21), Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40), Senator Steven Oroho (R-24), Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26), and Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) wrote to Senate President Steve Sweeney today (click here for PDF) urging for preservation letters to be issued to the Department and appropriate parties who may be in possession of evidence in matters that may be reviewed by the bipartisan Senate Review and Recovery Committee.

Following troubling accusations of dysfunction and potential misconduct within the Department of Health, Senators Kean, Corrado, Oroho, Pennacchio, and O’Scanlon urged Senate President Sweeney to issue preservation letters to the Department and appropriate parties who may be in possession of evidence in matters that may be reviewed by the bipartisan Senate Review and Recovery Committee. (SenateNJ.com)

The full text of the letter is below:

June 2, 2020

Dear Senate President Sweeney,

As you are aware, the Senate Republican caucus has called on the Senate to form a select committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the State’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, several areas of concern have emerged and highlighted the need for legislative oversight, including the unconscionable number of deaths that have occurred at New Jersey’s long-term care facilities. We thank you again for sharing our concerns and announcing jointly with our caucus on May 22, 2020 your commitment to the formation of the bipartisan Senate Review and Recovery Committee.

We write you today in light of troubling accusations of dysfunction and potential misconduct within the Department of Health, as identified by whistleblowers within the department. Among other assertions, published reports have pointed to the possible misuse of federal funds and suggested that Assistant Commissioner Christopher Neuwirth was terminated in an attempt to hide misconduct within the Administration. Additional accusations were raised in correspondence from the whistleblowers to you and Leader Kean, leading to serious new questions about the Administration’s handling of the crisis, particularly as it pertains to long-term care facilities.

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio to Federal Government: ‘Take Over Long-Term Nursing Facilities Now’

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In light of growing, serious concerns about the New Jersey Health Department’s effectiveness during the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Senator Joe Pennacchio wrote to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, asking the federal government to take control of the state’s long-term care facilities.

Senator Pennacchio today asked the administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to assume oversight of New Jersey’s long-term care facilities. (Wikimedia Commons)

The full text of the letter follows:

June 2, 2020

Dear Administrator Verma,

I am writing to you today because New Jersey is in a crisis. It has failed to protect our most vulnerable residents and the need for federal oversight and intervention is glaring. As of June 1, 2020, the number of COVID related deaths at state-regulated nursing homes stands at 5,930, a number of lost lives that sadly grows with each passing day. To date, one out of every 10 long-term nursing facility residents in New Jersey has died.

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

State Department of Health’s Chaos led to Nursing Home Deaths

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Pennacchio questions why Senate Select Committee has yet to be announced

After published reports of a “scathing letter from health department insiders” suggested the state’s many pandemic failures resulted in preventable deaths, Senator Joe Pennacchio questioned the delay in establishing a Senate special committee to investigate the Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

New Jersey residents deserve answers to glaring questions about the Department of Health’s approach to protecting the public from the coronavirus, said Senator Pennacchio after another published report cited dysfunction within the department. (SenateNJ.com)

“We have more questions than answers, and this report is proof positive that we need to act now before more lives are lost,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “I, and many others, have voiced concerns with the functionality of the health department. It’s becoming obvious problems within the department have contributed to, or directly led to, thousands of deaths.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio Resolution Seeks Federal Action to Assist Businesses Struggling to Survive

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Rental Forgiveness for Commercial Tenants and Tax Deductions for Landlords Could Help Fuel Economic Recovery

Senator Joe Pennacchio introduced a Senate resolution urging the United States Congress to pass legislation to help hundreds of thousands of businesses struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Senator Pennacchio’s resolution urges the U.S. Congress to pass federal legislation, similar to his New Jersey bill, providing relief for commercial tenants and landlords to save jobs endangered by the pandemic. (Pixabay)

The resolution (SR-69) seeks federal action to assist commercial tenants and landlords as businesses remain closed and lease payments become due.

“We want to prevent a domino effect that could do irreparable damage to local economies,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “Companies can’t conduct business, employees lose their jobs, lease payments are missed, and landlords can’t make their mortgage payments. This resolution, as is my bill (S-2460) in the New Jersey legislature, provides a safety net to prevent businesses from closing forever and landlords from facing bank foreclosures.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: 6,000 Nursing Home Residents Dead, Administration Blame Game Has Begun

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To Prevent A Repeat, Senate Must Find Out What Went Wrong

Senator Joe Pennacchio today said more serious questions have been raised at the New Jersey Department of Health and “the lack of leadership has been glaring at the highest levels of state government during the COVID crisis.”

More serious questions have been raised at the Department of Health and Senator Pennacchio said the lack of leadership has been glaring. (SenateNJ.com)

Pennacchio’s comments come after a published report of heated arguments between the health commissioner and high-level staffers on the Governor’s team, and an attempt to sign a $500,000 contract with a politically-connected consultant firm for four weeks of work with nursing homes.

“These are serious issues – 6,000 souls died in state-regulated nursing homes,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “The state forced the virus into these long-term nursing facilities, while keeping their loved ones out. A pandemic is devastating the state economy and has killed 12,000 state residents, half of them seniors in long-term care.

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Senator Declan O'Scanlon
Senator Joe Pennacchio
Senator Kristin Corrado
Senator Steve Oroho

Republican Senators Urge Sweeney to Ensure Protections for Disabled Residents, Provide Committee with Subpoena Power

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Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26), Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40), Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13), and Senator Steven Oroho wrote to Senate President Steve Sweeney today (click here for PDF) urging that a recently announced Senate committee review new concerns regarding the State’s COVID-19 response to group homes and other facilities that care for residents with disabilities. They also reiterated their call for the new Senate Review and Recovery Committee to be given subpoena power to compel the appearance of witnesses.

Senators Pennacchio, Corrado, O’Scanlon, and Oroho urged Senate President Steve Sweeney to allow a recently announced Senate committee to review new concerns regarding group homes and other facilities that care for residents with disabilities, and to give the committee subpoena power to compel the appearance of witnesses. (SenateNJ.com)

The full text of the letter is below:

May 29, 2020

Dear Senate President Sweeney,

Two weeks ago, our Senate Republican caucus wrote to you calling for the formation of a Senate Select Committee to investigate the Murphy administration’s response to COVID-19, including the orders that contributed to the loss of life in New Jersey’s long-term care facilities.

We are thankful that you listened to our requests and announced jointly with Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean the formation of a bipartisan Senate Review and Recovery Committee for this purpose. This is a positive step that will allow New Jersey to learn from its mistakes and improve our State’s response as we look to reopen safely.

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Chaos at the State Department of Health

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Pennacchio: Fired Deputy Commissioner Should be Called as Witness for Special Senate Committee

As reported in the New Jersey Globe, the state’s top health official in charge of emergency preparedness has been fired, and Senator Joe Pennacchio said it paints a disturbing portrait of the Murphy Administration’s COVID performance.

Fired high-level health department official should be one of the first witnesses for the Senate’s pandemic response investigation, Senator Pennacchio said. (SenateNJ.com)

“With the revelation that the fired assistant commissioner of health claims he was being ‘scapegoated,’ and recent statements by the commissioner herself that she and the Governor had yet to have a ‘one on one meeting,’ a picture begins to emerge,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “A picture of a chaotic department that was in over their heads. A picture that saw the Administration safely fall back on and hide behind the skirts of the CDC, FDA, and WHO for guidance. A picture that had no forethought in COVID policy but rather played follow the leader with New York. An administration that became comfortable managing this mess instead of looking for ways to lead us out. The souls of 6,000 dead in our nursing homes and their families deserve answers now.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Revised Figures Show One In 10 Nursing Home Residents in New Jersey Died from COVID-19

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Senator Pennaccchio: These Numbers are Horrifying

While the state slowly emerges from the grasp of the coronavirus, death tolls, especially in long-term care facilities, continue to rise.

Senator Pennacchio said a report by Forbes that one in 10 New Jersey nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 supports the need for an immediate investigation into the state’s pandemic response. (Pixabay)

“Nursing home residents are paying dearly for actions taken by the Administration,” said Senator Joe Pennacchio. “New data indicates that since the outbreak, one in 10 residents of senior care facilities have died from COVID-19. The real number may actually be higher, much higher because statistics don’t include long-term patients who died after being transferred to hospitals. Also not included in the numbers are staff members who perished while taking care of residents in these facilities. The health department’s recording practices obscure the loss of life among our seniors, but cannot erase the reality.”

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