JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A posh New Jersey restaurant was abruptly closed for hosting a mask-less open “secret” gala for the New York Young Republicans on Thursday night, touching off a politically charged culture war as COVID-19 infection rates soar.

And now it’s getting ugly, with very nasty language between elected leaders, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

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The pictures of the New York Young Republicans’ gala show dozens of celebrants not wearing masks, including Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, apparently grinning because they succeeded in holding their party despite strict rules banning such events.

“The press attacked us. The politicians scorned us. But we prevailed,” bragged a club member on social media after the group canceled plans to hold the event in New York City and went to the Maritime Parc in Jersey City instead.

But did they?

Gov. Phil Murphy was furious.

“It’s beyond the pale that anyone would willingly endanger people in another state, nevermind their own,” Murphy said.


The governor not only showed pictures of the gala at his Friday news conference, but he also showed unflattering pictures of Gaetz in a gas mask as he signed the coronavirus bill. Murphy called that a scene from “Dr. Strangelove,” and added, “The tall handsome fella in the grey suit, that is Rep. Matt Putz, sorry, Matt Gaetz. Based on his past performances, it’s obvious being a knucklehead is not beyond the pale for him.”

Murphy added, “He is not welcome. I hope you are watching, Matt. You are not welcome in New Jersey.”

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The governor and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop ordered the restaurant shut down.

“When somebody like this throws it in our face, throws it in the face of our mayor, throws it in the face of the governor across the river, throws it in the face of our governor, zero tolerance from the city of Jersey City,” Municipal Prosecutor Jake Hudnut said.

Republicans struck back, with club president Gavin Wax tweeting, “It’s shameful for @govmurphy to culturally appropriate Ashkenazi Yiddish culture with the word ‘putz’ when he’s in fact acting like a ‘schmuck.'”

Congressman Gaetz took offense at a Murphy tweet of him in the gas mask, tweeting, “You’re gonna regret this tweet when you move to Florida like the rest of New Jersey.”

New Jersey prosecutors said they are investigating the possibility of bringing criminal charges.

Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo talked about the event, saying Gov. Murphy was right. Cuomo condemned Rep. Gaetz, saying it was irresponsible for an elected official to do what he did.

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