Is Gov. Murphy making money on offshore wind farms?
🔴 Social media users have shared an unsubstantiated claim that Murphy is financially benefiting from offshore wind projects
🔴 The governor's office has responded to the claim as "absolutely false"
🔴 Murphy administration has been facing criticism over marine mammal deaths
More than a dozen whales have washed up along the New York-New Jersey coastline since December and some individuals blaming offshore wind prep work have a new theory for why Gov. Murphy won't stop the projects.
The claim is that the millionaire governor is personally invested in offshore wind companies and he's making money by building new turbines off the Jersey Shore. It's based on the names of two companies registered in the United Kingdom.
Social media users on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit's r/New Jersey may have seen the claim spreading like wildfire over the past week. The claim verbatim, which has been copy and pasted across the internet, is:
"Phil Murphy has a holding company JECS Limited, JECS is likely named after his children’s initials, (Josh, Emma, Charlie, Sam). His Villa in Italy is held under JECS Limited which him and Tammy own fully. JECS Limited is the same JECS Offshore network, along with Orsted (DONG) that are building these colossal wind farms off our coast. Phil has no interest in stopping the project because he’s set to make $$$$, always follow the money."
Conservative website Shore News Network also spread the rumor that was found by "citizen investigators." The website stated it was "unknown" whether they had any connection. It's also unknown whether SNN ever contacted Murphy's office to ask.
New Jersey 101.5 asked the governor's office about the claims of underhanded financial gain. The answer from Deputy Communications Director Alexandra Altman was unequivocal.
"There is no connection between JECS Ltd. and JECS Offshore Services, and any claim otherwise is absolutely false. Conflating two companies with similar names is another amateur scare tactic being used by groups whose sole focus is to stall the progress of New Jersey’s clean energy future," Altman said this week.
While JECS Ltd. and JECS Offshore Scaffolding Ltd. share initials, they do not share registration numbers, personnel, or anything else. And the same can be said of more than a dozen other companies using those initials registered in the U.K., according to a New Jersey 101.5 review of business records.
What is true about Gov. Murphy's investments?
Murphy's office revealed in 2018 that the governor had signed a blind trust agreement and transferred his portfolio to Stephen Snyder, his brother-in-law. Snyder is the active director of the holding company JECS Ltd. In 2018, NJ.com reported that the company had purchased Murphy's $7.3 million Italian mansion in 2004.
The unrelated JECS Offshore, which was incorporated in 2014, has been doing offshore wind work for several European companies for years, according to its website.
Part of the confusion may stem from an unofficial, non-government website that automatically aggregates information on holding companies. On a page that is supposed to be about Murphy's holding company, Endole.co.uk links the offshore company's website and Twitter and displays the offshore company's logo.
Endole states that it uses information from "authoritative sources" including the UK government to create its company pages. But the government website lists the companies separately.
New Jersey 101.5 reached out to Endole for clarification as Murphy's holding company does not have a logo, website, or Twitter page. A response from the company Thursday morning confirmed the mistake.
"We source our data from Business Data Registry. This information updates on a monthly basis when our system has the opportunity to fetch new sets of information from websites or directories," Endole said. The page for JECS Ltd. has since been updated to remove the offshore company's information.
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Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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