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.
We continue to believe the Review and Recovery Committee should be formally constituted as quickly as possible and authorized to subpoena documents and witnesses to provide the people of New Jersey with the answers they deserve. In the meantime, however, we believe it is imperative that immediate steps be taken to ensure that the Committee is in a position to fulfill its important review at such time that it begins its work.
To this end, we ask that, in your capacity as Senate President, you issue preservation letters on behalf of the Senate to all appropriate parties that may be in possession of evidence relevant to the Committee’s future work. These should include a general preservation letter covering the Department of Health at large, in addition to individual preservation letters directed to any and all persons implicated in the reports referenced above, including, but not limited to, Mr. Neuwirth. The preservation of records should apply to all written documents and electronic communications, including emails, text messages, and other correspondence, as well as voicemails and audio recordings.
We believe the Senate has a responsibility to ensure that any mistakes made in response to the COVID-19 crises are identified and fully understood so that they may be avoided in the future, and we are confident that you share this view. In the spirit of this common goal, we look forward to continuing to work with you and our Senate colleagues in a bipartisan fashion on behalf of all New Jerseyans.
Thomas Kean Leader
Kristin Corrado Conference Leader
Steven Oroho Budget Officer
Joe Pennacchio Whip
Declan O’Scanlon Senator – District 13