Home > Uncategorized > NJ Gov. Murphy’s Connections To Germany Warrant Scrutiny

NJ Gov. Murphy’s Connections To Germany Warrant Scrutiny

NJ Spotlight Stumbles On A Potentially Huge Story

Germany Is Desperate For LNG Imports

Murphy Has German & Wall Street Connections With Fortress LNG Export Project

In an incredible irony, today, in a story that was abject cheerleading for Gov. Murphy’s off shore wind program, NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle stumbled upon a potentially explosive story: (Spotlight)

Lee Laurendeau, chief executive of EEW’s American Offshore Structures, said his company’s interest in the Paulsboro site began with a conversation with Gov. Phil Murphy, who had once been the U.S. ambassador to Germany. Murphy urged EEW to consider setting up in Paulsboro, Laurendeau said.”

This is the first time I’ve seen a source quoted directly linking a NJ energy issue to Gov. Murphy’s prior role as Ambassador to Germany.

Gov. Murphy himself highlighted the dynamics and huge implications:

“I know we all desperately want to see an end to the war in Ukraine. But I know that we also want to see an energy future where no dictator can hold the world hostage over its energy supply, and I want New Jersey to be one of the places where we make this stand in no uncertain terms,” Murphy said.

Russia just terminated gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

Germany could be next.

Germany relies on Russian gas imports for 40% of its energy. If Russia cut off that gas supply, the German economy would collapse and there would be political and social chaos. Germany is now in emergency mode, desperately seeking alternative gas, primarily via LNG imports. But they lack import terminals and the world supply of gas and LNG shipping tankers are not adequate to serve that demand.

In response, the Biden administration has pledged to rapidly expand US LNG exports to Europe (Germany).

Relatedly, a huge proposed new LNG export project on the Delaware River, known as Fortress Energy, is planned and was permitted by the Murphy DEP.

The current Murphy DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette was the lawyer for the Fortress Energy project that secured the DEP permits (how convenient! The Fox is now supervising the hen house architects!)

Which all takes me back to the NJ Spotlight story which casually noted Gov. Murphy’s prior role as ambassador to Germany and NJ energy policy and finance.

I previously documented and connected dots on Gov. Murphy’s German connections, including his prior role at Goldman Sachs, Wall Street finance, and the Fortress  Energy LNG project.

I wrote:

II.  Twisted Tales Of Wall Street Finance Could Link Gov. Murphy to the Project

Before the 2016 Philadelphia Inquirer story, back on 3/20/15, NJ.Com wrote a story with Sweeney praising Fortress Investment Group:

“State Sen. President Steve Sweeney led a press conference in Greenwich Township to announce the sale of the township’s former DuPont Repauno plant to Fortress Investment Group, which aims to turn the dormant 1,800-acre property into a port-related industrial park for imports and exports.

Sweeney goes out of his way to praise Fortress:

“That’s what they do, and they do it with private sector capital, not government money, which is the win-win-win for everybody,” said Sweeney, who declined to divulge the total value of the sale besides to say “It’s a lot of land.”

But Fortress did not provide a “win-win-win for everybody”. 

Fortress isa failed hedge fund – see:

  • The Fall of Fortress  – The asset manager is selling itself at a premium, but it’s still trading at a fraction of its IPO price. The big losers? Us.

“Fortress Investment Group, the struggling alternative-­investment firm that went public to great fanfare ten years ago but whose shares have since lost 74 percent of their market value.

Kaplan says Fortress has been “terrible” for public investors.”

They’ve ripped off public investors, including – as Sweeney might appreciate, given his political battles with NJ Teachers Unions – the Ohio Teacher’s Pension Fund:

“Fortress was the first U.S. alternatives firm to go public, in 2007, starting a trend that burned red-hot, then quickly flamed out, proving over the past ten years that these deals have been a disaster for public shareholders, which include big mutual funds catering to both retail and institutional investors. Among Fortress’s shareholders: Allianz Asset Management, Fidelity Investments, Wellington Management Co., and even the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.”

Now here’s where the links between Fortress and Gov. Murphy get murky and hypothetical, but good investigative journalism could connect these dots:

1. Veteran NJ environmental reporter Kirk Moore confirmed the story on the stealth LNG aspect of this project, where he also noted:

“Delaware River Partners LLC, a subsidiary of New York City-based Fortress Investment Group.”

2. Who is Fortress Investment GroupWikipedia reports that they have strong links to Goldman Sachs:

“When Fortress launched on the NYSE on February 9, 2007 with Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers underwriting the IPO.”

3. More recently, Fortress was acquired by a politically wired firm called SoftBank Group Corp, asreported by Institutional Investor:

“Last December business executives from around the globe made their way to Manhattan’s Trump Tower to meet with president-­elect Donald Trump. But few made as big of a splash as Masayoshi Son, head of SoftBank Group Corp., who had Trump crowing on Twitter about the Japanese mogul’s pledge to invest $50 billion in the U.S. and create 50,000 American jobs.

… on February 14 [2017], SoftBank agreed to pay $3.3 billion to buy Fortress Investment Group, the struggling alternative-­investment firm that went public to great fanfare ten years ago but whose shares have since lost 74 percent of their market value.”

4. SoftBank has some interesting relationships:

Fortress’s $3.3 billion deal with SoftBank was driven by Rajeev Misra, a former Deutsche Bank derivatives expert who is now in charge of investment strategy.

Gov. Murphy was former US Ambassador to Germany, where, particularly given his Goldman Sachs finance background, one assumes he had relationships with Deutsche Bank “experts” on investment strategy.

5. Now look who Mr. Misra, who drove the Fortress deal, formed a relationship with and where that individual previously worked:

A few years ago Misra worked briefly at Fortress, where he developed a relationship with Edens and Peter Briger Jr., who cochair the board of directors. (Briger also has ties to Japan, where he previously worked for Goldman Sachs Group.)

6. Briger and Phil Murphy are both Goldman Sachs diaspora, see NY Times.

So, a few questions emerge:

Did Phil Murphy have any involvement with the Fortress deal when he was at Goldman?

Did Phil Murphy have any relationship with SoftBank or Peter Briger?

Was Gov. Phil Murphy aware of the Fortress role?

As Gov. of NJ, Murphy sits on the DRBC Board and has executive control over DEP.

Did Murphy  in any way intervene in DRBC and/or DEP regulatory review processes?

Who were the players behind the scenes that pushed this project through DRBC and DEP reviews, without disclosing the LNG aspects?

It’s now time for some real investigative reporting and legislative oversight of what might be going on behind the scenes regarding Gov. Murphy’s German connections, which are openly documented on wind, and very troubling on LNG export.

If the Fortress LNG Export project re-emerges, it will be too late.

Is the legacy of IF Stone or William Greider out there?

Who will tell the people this story?

[Important End Notes:

1. Gov. Murphy’s personal dealings with his German friends, in the absence of real planning, could explain why the Port Paulsboro project was so flawed. Few recall (and NJ Spotlight fails to report) that the wind manufacturing at the Paulsboro Port location failed to consider the height limitations of bridges across the Delaware River, an elementary and huge error, see:

2. People also forget, and the supreme irony is lost, that the Paulsboro port’s first business, cheered by sponsors Senate President Sweeney and Assemblyman Burzichelli, was RUSSIAN STEEL IMPORTS!, see:

3. Gov. Murphy linked his off shore wind program to climate change. NJ Spotlight reported this claim as a fact. So again, we must warn that wind does not reduce or displace fossil fueled power and is in no way technical or legally linked to greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Just the opposite, see:

4. Finally, we got a belly laugh on this:

A German corporation is receiving hundreds of millions of NJ taxpayer subsidies, and here’s the local economic development plan – reported by Spotlight:

“We have a bulletin board with all the restaurants in Paulsboro, and we encourage everyone to use them”

Guess I’ll have the Paulsboro $6.99 breakfast special: eggs over easy with hash browns and rye toast!

NJ Making the right moves! That’s one hell of a headline, Spotlight!

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.