Following pictures and videos of a secret, maskless gala held by the New York Young Republican Club, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) proclaimed that one of the attendees, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), should not return to the Garden State.
The New York Young Republican Club hosted the party at an undisclosed location in Jersey City after New York prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people. Gatherings of less than 150 people are allowed in New Jersey if they fall under First Amendment protections, such as political or religious events, but Murphy said social media posts of the event show people openly violating the statewide mask mandate. He said an investigation by law enforcement is underway. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop later tweeted that the location of the gala, Maritime Parc, had been found out by officials and shut down.
“He and they should be ashamed of themselves,” Murphy said during Friday’s coronavirus briefing about Gaetz and the Republican organization. “He is not welcome — I hope you are watching this, Matt — you are not welcome in New Jersey, and frankly, I don’t ever want you back in this state.”
Murphy had a few other choice names for Gaetz, who was invited as a special guest after former Alaska governor Sarah Palin backed out of attending the controversial gathering.
“That guy in the middle, the tall, handsome fella in the grey suit, that is Rep. Matt Putz — I’m sorry, Matt Gaetz,” Murphy said, pointing at a photo of at least 20 maskless people tightly huddled for the camera. As of Friday evening, “Matt Putz” was a top trending topic on Twitter.
“Based on his past performances, it’s obvious being a knucklehead is not beyond the pale for him,” Murphy continued, citing the time Gaetz wore a gas mask to a House floor vote on coronavirus relief, a performance Democrats said inappropriately poked fun at a pandemic that has killed his own constituents.
When asked for comment, the congressman’s office referred The Post to Gaetz’s tweets.
“Thank you for calling me handsome, Governor! I’m only considered handsome in New Jersey, though,” he tweeted. “In Florida I’m barely a roundup 6.”
He also retorted that Murphy would one day “move to Florida like the rest of New Jersey.”