The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee has rejected the nomination of Phil Kwon, one of Governor Christie’s nominees to the New Jersey Supreme Court. The vote was close (7-6) and mostly along party lines, and it appears that questioning and opposition focused on a federal case against his family’s business. According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger:
[T]he family business — a liquor and wine store — forfeited $160,000 to the federal government to settle civil charges that more than $2 million was deposited in the business’s bank account illegally. Kwon was not accused of wrongdoing and does not work for the family business. On that basis, the governor said yesterday this case “has nothing to do with Phil.”
But if that brush-off is the final answer, then the Senate has grounds to refuse confirmation. Kwon bought a $2.3 million home a few years ago with his wife and mother, both of whom derive their income from this business. He and his wife also own a Manhattan condominium they purchased in 2000 with the help of a $650,000 mortgage.
Governor Christie held a press conference after the vote and called the hearing a “circus.”
The committee did not consider the nomination of Bruce Harris and apparently did not announce a date for his hearing. As my JCN colleague Carrie explained earlier, it is Harris’s nomination that has generated the most criticism from conservatives.