The sponsor of a 2001 State Assembly resolution to impeach Peter Verniero wants Gov. Phil Murphy to reconsider his pick of the former Supreme Court Justice to head an independent investigation of a top administration official for sexual assault.
“I read about his appointment in the paper and my first reaction was to remember when New Jersey was known as the poster child for racial profiling, said William D. Payne, a Newark civil rights icon and former assemblyman. “I could not see anything on the part of his office to correct this issue.”
Payne, 86, recalled with much furor the State Senate hearings seventeen years ago on racial profiling at the New Jersey State Police, a policy that Verniero had been part of when he was the state attorney general.
The State Senate voted 37-1 to ask Verniero to resign after it became clear that he had misled the Judiciary Committee.
“He was insensitive to feelings African Americans had to being pulled over just for the color of their skin,” Payne told the New Jersey Globe.
Payne said he was surprised to see that Verniero was appointed to investigate the hiring of Al Alvarez, a former Murphy campaign aide who was accused of sexual assault by a volunteer on the governor’s 2017 campaign.
“In my judgment, it would be better to have someone else,” said Payne. “There are people around with unblemished records. Maybe they could find someone else who could do this job with the full support of the community.”
Payne suggested that Murphy was not made aware of Verniero’s involvement in the racial profiling scandal and the move to impeach him from the state’s top court.
“I’ll talk to the governor when he gets back,” Payne said.
The respected elder statesman of Newark politics, who still has considerable sway in the South Ward, said that he will speak with other members of the Legislature as well.
“You can’t sell out your soul,” he said.