Gov. Phil Murphy chief of staff Pete Cammarano on Tuesday said he asked former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez to find a job outside of state government on March 26, months before Alvarez was asked to do the same in June by Charles McKenna, his then-boss at the SDA.
Alvarez, who was employed on an at-will basis at the SDA, did not resign until Oct. 2, close to six months later, when a reported from the Wall Street Journal contacted him for comment on Brennan’s allegations of sexual assault against him.
“It’s a difficult conversation to have, but the message was there that he needed to leave state government,” Cammarano said when asked why he didn’t have Alvarez fired. “You can sit here — I sit here all the time — and say if there’s something I would’ve done different, it would have been to make sure that he was done. I did not. I did not have another meeting with Mr. Alvarez after that.”
The conversation between Alvarez and Cammarano was not previously disclosed to the public. No timeline for was given for Alvarez’s departure at that time, and Cammarano said he did not speak with him again.
Cammarano said he was surprised to find that Alvarez was still working for the SDA in June, adding that he did not recall if he knew at the time that Murphy Chief Counsel Matt Platkin told McKenna to ask Alvarez to depart his state government job.
His testimony on Tuesday was cut short after the committee reached its predetermined 4 p.m. closing time. He will likely return to continue his testimony when the committee reconvenes on Jan. 8.
Cammarano maintained that Murphy was not informed of the allegations against Alvarez before Oct. 2, though he said he sometimes wishes he had told the governor ahead of time.
New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan has accused Alvarez of sexually assaulting her in April 2017, when they were both involved in Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign.
Murphy deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs Justin Braz told the committee earlier in the day that he informed Cammarano and transition counsel Raj Parikh of Brennan’s allegations in November 2017.
The committee’s chairs suggested they would call Parikh and transition executive director Jose Loranzo to testify at some point down the line.