Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-Wyckoff) announced this morning that he plans to introduce a resolution to remove Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo, whose department has come under fire from both sides for its handling of unemployment claims during the pandemic.
“Enough is enough and it’s time for a change,” DePhillips said in a statement. “Because of his incompetence, lawmakers have essentially turned their offices into satellite unemployment offices. Plus, when the unemployed come to us, they’re out of breath and face utility shutdowns, foreclosures and to evictions.”
Last week, the State Senate adopted unanimously a resolution calling on Governor Phil Murphy to address the unemployment backlog and fully reopen state government offices. Just minutes after the resolution was passed, Asaro-Angelo announced that some of the state’s one-stop career centers would reopen for appointment-only services, but DePhillips today insisted that the partial reopening is insufficient.
“The labor commissioner is just adding insult to injury,” he said. “Our unemployed residents deserve undivided attention and unlimited in-person help so they can receive the payments they rightfully earned. That’s what the Ministry of Labor is supposed to do and since it’s not happening, the commissioner has to go.
Asaro-Angelo will appear before the Senate Labor Committee this afternoon at 1 p.m. to testify about “the current state of New Jersey’s unemployment insurance system and the misclassification of workers.”
Asaro-Angelo is the second member of Murphy’s cabinet to face impeachment. The first was former Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks, whose handling of allegations of abuse and mistreatment at the Edna Mahan Women’s Correctional Facility caused outcry from members of both sides last summer; Murphy finally ousted him before any formal impeachment proceedings can begin.
But it seems unlikely Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-South Amboy) will be motivated to move forward with DePhillips’ proposed impeachment of Asaro-Angelo, who has been criticized but not obvious major scandal. History is also on Asaro-Angelo’s side, as no New Jersey cabinet member has ever been successfully impeached.