A Legal Fig Leaf, to be Sure

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Despite mounting criticism of the decision by New Direction New Jersey to refuse to disclose its financial supporters, its officers seem determined to tough it out, endure and shrug off the unfavorable media coverage, seemingly confident the issue will fade quickly as other high-profile concerns capture public attention.

The nonprofit political action committee is  governed by close allies and confidants of Gov. Phil Murphy and, despite the pledge made by his campaign manager  Brendan Gill when the group was created in November 2017 that its donor list would be available for all to see, it underwent an abrupt change of heart and intends to keep the identity of its financiers secret.

The group was established to promote the governor’s legislative agenda, tout his accomplishments, and endeavor to build broad support for his Administration.  It has already aired two television commercials on his behalf and presumably plans additional ones as the year unfolds.

A spokesman for the PAC explained that “a toxic political environment” convinced the group to adopt a non-disclosure policy.

Presumably, it didn’t occur to them that hiding the identity of their financial backers contributes to the toxic political environment that offends them so.

The PAC is administered by seasoned political operatives, veterans of statewide and local campaigns —- campaign consultants Steve DeMicco and Brad Lawrence most prominently —  who would now have the public believe they recently discovered the “toxic political environment” and the compelling need to protect their check writers from it.

It’s the “Casablanca” defense writ large: “I’m