Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat who holds the No. 2 leadership position behind the Senate president, Stephen M. Sweeney, said she was not aware of the provision when she voted to approve the budget. She said she was “outraged” by the turn of events.
One of the golf course’s owners, Paul B. Fireman, the founder of Reebok who sold his company to Adidas for $3.8 billion, and his family are generous campaign donors, contributing about $420,000 to Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey between 2009 and last year, state records show.
“A couple of paid lobbyists along with a couple of legislators got in special language for a guy who owns a golf course,” Ms. Weinberg said in an interview.
Hours earlier, she had sent a news release urging Mr. Murphy to issue a line-item veto of the bill.
Activists, she said, had “worked far too hard to have their efforts thwarted by a few lines buried in an emergency, never-before-done budget at the crest of a global pandemic,” Ms. Weinberg said. “This was a sneaky, backdoor way to attempt to change important public policy.”
Others, however, questioned how Ms. Weinberg, the Senate’s Democratic majority leader, could have not known about the effort.
When asked who she believed orchestrated the last-minute bill language, she said: “The boys. What else is new?”