By Jacob Walthour, Jr.
Here is an undeniable truth: We all make mistakes. And, when we do, we need to own them and be accountable. Don’t make excuses. Don’t blame others. Don’t cover them up. Just take accountability.
As outgoing chief of staff for Gov. Phil Murphy, George Helmy presumably departs for the private sector, his next employer has an opportunity to teach him a valuable quality that has escaped him during his time in Trenton — accountability.
We do not know where he is going or what he will be doing. However, we do know that he leaves government service embroiled in three lawsuits where he principally is named for the way he abused his power.
The first case is a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former Health Department official, Chris Neuwirth. Neuwirth says he was fired for refusing to conduct COVID tests for relatives of Mr. Helmy during the height of the pandemic when the state was running low on testing kits.
The suit claims that to cover up the demand he made, Mr. Helmy permitted a probe to find information that could be helpful to destroying Neuwirth’s reputation and justifying his termination after the fact. Mr. Helmy will be deposed and the case is a black eye both for the Murphy administration and Mr. Helmy.
The second case, in Federal District Court, involves charges of discrimination, fraud and retaliation against Mr. Helmy and other employees of the State of New Jersey. My firm, Blueprint, was exploited by an old boy’s network of government officials and Wall Street firms with Mr. Helmy’s full knowledge.
When I went public after repeated attempts to resolve these concerns with the Murphy administration, Mr. Helmy personally issued threats against me. In 2020, I was ultimately forced to sue for injunctive relief and damages because of his inexcusable conduct inflicted on my firm.
This is an important civil rights case and Mr. Helmy and the state have tried to get this case dismissed. Fortunately, a recent decision by the Federal District Court will allow the case to move forward. Again, Mr. Helmy will be deposed, and this case is another black eye for the Murphy administration and Mr. Helmy.
The third case was brought by New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) Executive Director Jeff Brindle against the governor, Mr. Helmy and two other administration officials. The suit alleges conspiracy by Mr. Helmy and the others to force by illegal coercion and threats the resignation of plaintiff from his position as executive director of ELEC and to interfere with the independence of ELEC by pressuring and otherwise instructing its commissioners to terminate Brindle from his position.”
While Mr. Brindle will soon retire, the state attorney general is trying to get the case dismissed, and the pattern is clear.
So, is it three strikes and that’s why Mr. Helmy is out of the administration? Or will we continue to watch Mr. Helmy abuse his power wherever he lands and cause emotional harm on others with zero accountability?
Again, people make mistakes all the time, but the way Mr. Helmy has consistently handled his mistakes should be a red flag no matter what his next employ. Let’s hope he approaches his transition with lessons learned and an understanding that we all make mistakes. Our legacy is how we deal with them.
Jacob Walthour, Jr. is co-founder and chief executive officer of Blueprint Capital Advisor, headquartered in Newark.
Our CEO and Co-founder, Jacob Walthour, recently published this opinion piece which was featured in Mosaic.nj.com related to the imminent departure of George Helmy, Governor Murphy’s Chief of Staff.
Please read the article in the link below and share your thoughts:
Murphy’s ex-chief of staff made mistakes | Opinion – NJ Mosaic