DeFusco & Bhalla trade shots over mayor’s law firm representing NJ GOP in suit against gov


At least momentarily, a global pandemic was unable to suppress the bad blood between Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, as the two traded shots over the mayor’s law firm representing the NJ GOP in a lawsuit against Gov. Phil Murphy (D).

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018. Photo vi

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“It is remarkable to see Mayor Bhalla publicly taking credit in Hoboken for the work the governor and state officials have done in combating COVID-19, while privately his very own law firm seeks to cause irreparable damage to the progress we have made to flatten the curve in New Jersey,” DeFusco said in a statement late this afternoon.

“It’s disingenuous to publicly rally Hoboken residents to abide by one set of rules while quietly engaging in a frivolous lawsuit for his own financial benefit at the expense of state taxpayers. I have always felt strongly that Hoboken needs a full time Mayor free of these kinds of ethical questions, and this lawsuit only solidifies my position.”

This morning, the New Jersey Republican State Committee, along with four small business owners, filed suit in Cape May County Superior Court against Gov. Phil Murphy (D) challenging his stay-at-home order, The Record first reported.

“Instead of being guided by science, the governor chooses to hide behind it. He’s closed his eyes and ears and ignored New Jersey’s cries for common sense,” NJ GOP Chair Doug Steinhardt said.

Specifically, the court filing hopes to force the state to reopen nonessential businesses and the NJ GOP is being represented by Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis and Cohen – the firm where Bhalla has served as of counsel since February 2018.

Bhalla is not serving as a lawyer on the case and the mayor’s office said that he had no role in filing the suit against Murphy, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan.

City spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri also went bareknuckle went returning fire at DeFusco, claiming that he’s actively tried to “derail Hoboken emergency responses,” particularly after the mayor closed most nonessential businesses and being the first to shutter bars.

” … When Mayor Bhalla also closed gyms and other non-essential businesses in Hoboken to prevent the spread of the virus, Mike DeFusco purposefully evaded Hoboken’s safety regulations, traveled on public transportation to New York City to work out at an open gym, and then came back to go canvassing door to door in a senior building: potentially jeopardizing the health and safety of our most vulnerable residents,” Chaudhuri said.

Caitlin Mota, a spokeswoman for DeFusco, was willing to stand and trade, calling it “a flagrant violation” for Chaudhuri to be commenting on “the mayor’s private job.”

“ … It’s dishonest to intentionally spread rumors about Councilman DeFusco’s personal life and absurd to accuse him of contributing to the global health crisis. The fact of the matter is the mayor’s second job at a law firm favored by Republican interests will always be a conflict of interest. Mayor Bhalla either stands for senseless litigation meant to defame the governor’s efforts or the safety protocols he and Councilman DeFusco advocated for but it cannot be both.”

Bhalla also issued a “self-isolation order” a few days before the governor issued a stay-at-home directive superseding all local directives on March 21st.

This afternoon at a daily press conference in Trenton, Murphy initially declined to comment on the suit, but added that his administration remains guided by data, science, and facts.

“I’m sorry if folks don’t like the definitions, but the fact of the matter is they’re quite consistent, by the way, in terms of essential/non-essential that has been designated nationally as well,” the governor explained.

Additionally, New Jersey Democratic State Committee spokesman Phil Swibinski came to Murphy’s defense this evening.

” … While New Jerseyans from every political affiliation are rallying behind the governor’s leadership, the state’s incredibly out-of-touch Republican Party is trying to hijack the court system to literally play politics with peoples’ lives,” he said.

“This should tell New Jersey residents everything they need to know about Trenton Republicans – they’re just like the Trump Washington Republicans, and all they care about is scoring political points, even at the expense of the people of our state.”

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      • Councilman DeFusco posted that because both Hoboken and NYC gyms were closed due to COVID-19 that he went into Manhattan to use a private corporate gym.

        I am sure Ms Caitlin Motta who controls and edits Councilman DeFusco social media could find and publish the post even if it was deleted. I am also sure she will ignore that as it would not fit her assigned narrative to support her client’s negative campaign to try to become mayor.

  1. Remember, Ravi is providing thought leadership and support to the young lawyers of this Republican law firm. Ravi is leading NJ residents in their fight to end the lockdown and defend their civil rights. Ravi is No. 1!

  2. If Vijay Chaudhuri is the city’s spokesperson, he should NOT be making ridiculous comments on behalf of the mayor. Especially if he is paid by the taxpayers. Based on the comments he’s made over the past couple of years he is the mayor’s spokesperson, which means he should be paid out of the mayor’s campaign funds. This needs to stop.

  3. Will Hoboken’s City Council please step up and end the taxpayer funding of the Mayor’s political operation? The worst part of it is Bhalla and Co. flaunt it “because I can.”

    • I never heard Mayor RaviBhalla or anyone say “because I can”, however that was one of the well known phrases that Councilman Michael DeFusco’s mayoral $10,000 political contributor and campaign worker Francis “Pupie” Raia who was convicted and jailed for multiple counts voter fraud in Hoboken. Mr Raia was recently released early from prison and is finishing out his sentence at home.

      Raia was but one of the questionable DeFusco supporters.

      • I put “because I can” in quote to indicate figuratively. They do a lot they shouldn’t do “because they can.” I think less of them for doing it, and less of the governing body for their ‘play fight then surrender’ approach to checks and balances.

  4. Non-story.
    Wonder how many of these posts trying to defend DeFusco’s latest hyperbolic shot are from his paid public political relations firm ?

  5. Ravi planned the move of elections to November. That resulted in Hoboken’s “Non-partisan” elections for Mayor and Council getting thrown in with the Dem and GOP races. He and Dawn went Dem overnight. For the Party. Against Christie. For national attention. They wanted to be Dem stars. Now GOP lawyers against Governor Murphy? Past mistakes coming to light. Finances a mess. It does not look good. Maybe we should move our local races back to May.

    • You are allowed to have your opinion but not your own facts.

      Mayors Bhalla and Zimmer were always Democrats.

      You may be confusing them with Councilwoman Giattino who was a card carrying member of the Republican Party who before her failed attempt to run for mayor became a Democrat at least on paper.

      But then again you may just be a horses ass.

      • Of course they were Dems before. Meant they stuck their toes in Dem County politics around the time of the move of elections to November. Part of the plan to become “prominent” in State and National politics. Their long game. Why did Ravi keep all Dawn’s directors? Same team. Planners on the back bench. Running Hoboken into the ground.

        Cover is blown on the hacks. Ready for big changes?

  6. The resistance is back. The short answer is they are both bad but we’re probably stuck with one of the two for Mayor next year. You got Ravi who is building his little army of bots and Defusco who acts like a spoiled child. They are both bad for Hoboken.

    VJ is a scumbag and should not be using his time to justify the Mayor’s second job. Same goes for Phil ‘Loves Highrises’ Cohen. That sycophant does or defends every thing Tavi wants. Independent? Bull****!