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A former New Jersey health official claims he was fired after questioning Governor Phil Murphy’s chief of staff about giving him a coronavirus test.
Christopher Neuwirth filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, saying he was told to test George Helmy’s family for COVID-19 at a time when there was a shortage of tests and workers to do the tests, NJ Advance Media reported.
Neuwirth was deputy chief of public health, infrastructure, laboratories and emergency preparedness divisions until his dismissal on May 28.
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He claims he was fired for questioning the ethics of providing tests to relatives of governor officials.
“I was fired because I pursued an ethics complaint,” Neuwirth reportedly told NJ Advance Media.
The New Jersey Department of Health and Murphy’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
However, a spokesperson for Gov. Murphy told NJ Advance Media that the governor’s office is planning a “strong defense against this frivolous complaint.”
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In the lawsuit, Neuwirth alleges he received a phone call on April 24 from Superintendent Patrick Callaghan of the New Jersey State Police, asking Helmy’s relatives to conduct the test as a “favour.”
Two days later, Neuwirth made separate calls to the Department of Health’s Office of Legal and Regulatory Compliance and to Health Secretary Judith Persichilli, according to the complaint.
According to NJ Advance Media, both the compliance office and Persichilli reportedly instructed him not to conduct the test.
After not testing Helmy’s family, Neuwirth told NJ Advance Media that he felt “banished”.
He was eventually fired after being accused of leaking information to the media, which he claims is untrue.
“I am confident that when all the facts surrounding my dismissal come to light, it will become clear that I was not behaving unethically and that I was dismissed for doing what is expected of me as a public servant. I am,” he told NJ Advance Media.
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