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Pete Cammarano. New Jersey Globe Photo.

Alvarez wasn’t ‘must hire’ at Rutgers, e-mails show

Chain between Cammarano, Rutgers officials mirrors testimony

By David Wildstein, February 15 2019 12:22 am

Gov. Phil Murphy’s former chief of staff did not push Rutgers University to hire Al Alvarez after he was told to leave his state government job, according to e-mails and text messages obtained by the New Jersey Globe.

The e-mails appear to corroborate testimony by Pete Cammarano before the New Jersey Legislative Select Oversight Committee that he checked on Alvarez’s application status, but stopped short of telling officials that the ex-administration official accused of rape during Murphy’s 2017 campaign was a must-hire.

Cammarano reached out to Peter J. McDonough, Jr., the senior vice president of external affairs at Rutgers, on August 14, 2018 about two positions Alvarez was apparently seeking: chief of staff for strategic communication and associate vice president for advancement services.

McDonough then e-mailed Nevin E. Kessler, Jr., the president of the Rutgers University Foundation and the executive vice president of development and alumni relations.

The subject was “Need a Favor.”

“I got a call from the Gov’s chief of staff about an applicant… the applicant is Al Alvarez,” McDonough wrote.  “I don’t know him and am not sure if he’s got the qualifications, but could we have someone reach out to him to do some sort of phone interview just to be responsive?”

What McDonough said next was consistent with Cammarano’s testimony.

“There is not an expectation on their part that he gets hired, just that we give the guy a shot,” he said.

Four minutes later, McDonough texted Cammarano.

“I put a word in with the president of the foundation for that second job,” McDonough wrote.

Kessler responded to McDonough two hours later.

“We will conduct a screening interview with him,” Kessler said.  “Thank you for the heads up.”

Six days later, Kessler sent another e-mail to McDonough informing him that “Al Alvarez has not applied to the position, and we do not have contact information for him.”

“Should we be contacting him despite the fact that he hasn’t applied?” Kessler asked.

McDonough responded to Kessler two hours after that, this time copying Tahsin I. Alam, the associate vice president of talent, management and organizational development at the foundation.

“I’ll let the Gov’s office know that he hasn’t applied and see what the deal is,” McDonough wrote.  “Is the spot still open.”

Kessler responded two minutes later.

“Yes, but unless this guy has some medical development experience somewhere in his background, he is unlikely to be competitive in a strong pool,” Kessler said.  “We won’t know until we see his resume.”

About thirty minutes later, McDonough texted Cammarano.

“Hey Pete – Al Alvarez has not applied for that second job.”

McDonough’s response: “Thx.  I doubt that he has the required background.  I’ll let them know that.”

During Cammarano’s testimony in January, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg asked him if he offered to help him find a job.  Cammarano said he did not.

Murphy’s chief counsel, Matt Platkin, later testified that he discussed a Rutgers job with Cammarano.

“I informed Mr. Cammarano that Al had applied for a job at Rutgers; and ultimately we found out that he never actually applied of that job,” Platkin said.

When Cammarano returned to the panel in February, he faced questions about Alvarez’s quest for a Rutgers job from committee counsel Michael Critchley.

Cammarano told Critchley he didn’t recall what job Alvarez was seeking.

“No, it was a very basic conversation where — I got the position, made the inquiry, and that was it,” Cammarano said.  “When I found out he didn’t; apply, it was over.”

Critchley wanted to know why Cammarano was helping Alvarez at all, four months after initially telling Alvarez he needed to leave the administration.

“Did you find it unusual, based on facts you knew then — that Mr. Alvarez had been accused of sexual assault, you told him he had to leave where he was working — that he was attempting to find employment at Rutgers?” Critchley asked Cammarano.  “Did you find that unusual?”

Cammarano said he didn’t know if that was unusual.

“But I’ll tell you I was somewhat relieved he hadn’t applied,” he told Critchley.

Later in his testimony, Cammarano told committee counsel Joseph Hayden that had Rutgers offered Alvarez a job, he probably would have told them not to.

Cammarano McDonough Kessler emails texts
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