New Jersey investigating NY Young Republican Club party over social distancing
© New Jersey Office of the Governor

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said authorities are investigating after the New York Young Republican Club held a “gala fundraiser” in the state that flouted COVID-19 guidelines, according to photos.

Images of the fundraiser posted to social media show people not wearing masks gathered close together. The photos have led to criticism from New Jersey officials.

“It is beyond the pale that anyone would willingly endanger people in another state,” Murphy said on Twitter. “Jersey City law enforcement is investigating this matter.”

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The gala took place in Jersey City, which is across the river from Manhattan. Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzJudge grants another sentencing delay to Gaetz associate, but says it will be his last Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups Lawmakers question whether Amazon misled Congress MORE (R-Fla.), a top ally of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE, attended the event. Murphy also singled him out for criticism. 

“It is also beyond the pale Rep Matt Putz – I mean @RepMattGaetz – would participate in this. What a fool,” Murphy said. "Matt – You are not welcome in New Jersey, and frankly I don’t ever want you back in this state."

Gaetz responded to Murphy by mocking him over people who move from New Jersey to Florida. 

The event was held at the Maritime Parc in Jersey City after the group decided not to hold the event in New York, the Daily Beast reports.

Indoor gatherings in the Garden State are limited to ten people, except for “religious and political activities protected under the First Amendment,” the Beast notes. Exempted events can have up to 150 people in an indoor space, but guests have to socially distance and wear masks.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop (D) told the Daily Beast that the event was an “egregious violation of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions."

He tweeted a photo of an administrative order closing down Maritime Parc until the restaurant comes up with a plan to adhere to the state’s capacity and mask-wearing mandates.

A spokesperson for the restaurant told the news outlet that the event complied with state restrictions, and that guests were told to wear masks when entering and exiting the venue. They heard about the closure through media reports, and had been trying to get more details.

Gaetz in another tweet urged businesses in New Jersey to leave the state for Florida. 

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“Dear Business Owners. Escape the Tyrany. Move to Florida," he tweeted.

New York Young Republican Club President Gavin Wax said on Twitter that the gala was held “in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”

"Any suggestion to the contrary and any legal threats are made in bad faith and politically motivated,” he tweeted. “As far as we are aware, the First Amendment has not been repealed.”

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