In April, Gov. Phil Murphy joked that he doesn’t “go to the men’s room without consulting an attorney.” If that were literally true, Platkin likely could be one of the first people whose advice the governor would seek.
Platkin wields considerable influence within Murphy’s circle and the upper echelons of the state’s Democratic Party – evident in his brief stint as counsel for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker during the hearings over the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Anything that comes out of the governor’s office – executive orders, bills that are approved or vetoed – all need Platkin’s careful review. And as the top lawyer in Murphy’s office, Platkin has played a key role in drafting the myriad orders imposing restrictions on business and travel, all meant to halt, or at least slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state and blunt the effects of an anticipated second wave.
Platkin is also an ex-officio member of the 21-member commission advising the governor on how to roll back the restrictions in coordination with New Jersey’s neighboring states.
As legal challenges against the stay-at-home orders mount, and businesses begin to openly defy the orders, the legal expertise of the governor’s office will be critical in defending the governor’s approach.
That influence in April gave him a “free pass” – access to a COVID-19 test at a time when availability was limited to state residents showing symptoms, even though he was asymptomatic. During one of his daily news briefings on the outbreak, Murphy declared that “[L]iterally every single executive order” that he’s written during his time in office came from Platkin or one of his staffers.
As Murphy put it, “We need this guy.”