Planet Princeton

NJ governor appoints firearms czar

Bill Castner

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy today announced that he has appointed Bill Castner, a former vice president at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, to serve as his senior adviser on firearms.

Castner, who worked for the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services and later became a lawyer for the Fair Share Housing Center, was the general counsel to the New Jersey General Assembly from 2002 to 2006. He served as the executive director of the New Jersey General Assembly from 2006 to 2009 and then was appointed to serve as chief counsel to Governor Jon Corzine. He had a lead role in the passage of New Jersey’s one-gun-a-month law in 2009, and was appointed to serve on New Jersey’s State Commission of Investigation in 2010.

In  2011, Castner was appointed chief counsel to the Democratic members of the New Jersey Apportionment Commission, and in 2012 he was named  chief counsel to the New Jersey Redistricting Commission. He was a partner at one of the most powerful law firms in the state, Gibbons P.C., where he served as chair of the government affairs department and represented Americans for Responsible Solutions, which is now the Giffords Law Center. In 2015, he was named senior vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Once considered a protégé of South Jersey Democratic power broker George E. Norcross III, and a close ally of New Jersey Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, Castner allegedly had a falling out with the two in the fall of 2016 after he left Gibbons for Horizon.

Murphy said Castner will play an active role in strengthening a newly formed coalition “States for Gun Safety” that includes New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Puerto Rico. The states will work to enhance intelligence gathering, information sharing, and response efforts related to gun violence. A new Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium will also conduct research and gather statistics. Murphy said Castner will help his administration advance “common-sense” gun measures and potential avenues for legal challenges to stop gun violence.

Castner received his bachelor’s degree from Rowan University and his law degree from Rutgers University School of Law in Camden. He earned a master’s degree from the Eagleton Institute of Politics and also completed graduate courses at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He will advise Murphy and his administration on a pro bono basis for 60 days. Any long-term work after that period will be paid “through existing state resources,” the governor’s office said in a written statement about the appointment.

 

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Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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