The New Jersey task force investigating the state’s tax incentives programs said Friday that it would honor a judge’s request to postpone its proceedings until the court can review a legal challenge brought by South Jersey Democratic power broker George E. Norcross III.
The task force, formed by Gov. Phil Murphy, had scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, when it planned to release a report detailing its initial findings.
Norcross filed a request for a preliminary injunction Thursday seeking to halt the investigation until the judge could rule on a lawsuit he and others brought against Murphy and the task force last month.
Norcross argues that Murphy didn’t have the legal authority to create the panel. A court hearing on Norcross’ request for an injunction has been scheduled for June 17, the task force said in a statement.
“The court presiding over the litigation asked that the task force postpone the hearing and issuance of its first report to permit the court to review the issues raised in the motion, and the task force agreed,” the statement read.
It added, "We are confident that the governor’s authority to appoint the task force will be upheld, and should the court permit the hearing to go forward, we will provide notice to the public about the location and date of the rescheduled proceedings.”
The task force investigators have been scrutinizing companies with ties to Norcross. In 2017, the state Economic Development Authority awarded $245 million in tax breaks to Norcross’ insurance brokerage, Conner Strong & Buckelew, and two business partners that had pledged to build an office tower and move jobs to Camden.
Investigators have questioned whether those companies and others misled the state about their intentions to move jobs out of New Jersey if they were not awarded the incentives.
They also have examined whether an attorney for the Mount Laurel-based law firm Parker McCay — whose CEO is Norcross’ brother Philip — revised legislation to sweeten the pot for his clients. Among the firm’s clients were the energy company Holtec, which moved to Camden from Marlton after the EDA in 2014 awarded it $260 million in tax credits over 10 years.
Norcross and the companies have denied wrongdoing and called the inquiry politically motivated.
State prosecutors are also investigating the multibillion-dollar tax incentive programs; a grand jury issued a subpoena last week to the EDA.