The sender of a controversial New Jersey Transit tweet was Stewart Mader, who joined the agency staff last year as the Customer Advocate and Chief Customer Experience Officer, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Mader sent out at the tweet at the direction of NJ Transit chief administrative officer Jeannie Kwon, the central player in a storm over the hiring of a relative of the embattled agency’s CFO, sources have told the Globe.
The (Bergen) Record reported today that CFO Bill Viqueira suggested the hiring of his brother-in-law as the $128,000-a-year labor relations counsel for the agency.
Following the story, a tweet from the official New Jersey Transit twitter account bashed the story.
“We are appalled that personal attacks would be levied against highly qualified employees who are changing NJ Transit for the better. Our customers benefit when people with their qualifications and commitment serve the public,” the tweet said.
That caused Dan Bryan, a senior advisor to Gov. Phil Murphy, to slam NJ Transit.
“To be clear: this tweet was outrageous, completely inappropriate and wholly unfair to Dustin Racioppi and by extension, the entire press corps. This kind of anti-press rhetoric from a state agency account is totally unacceptable,” Bryan said in a tweet from his personal account.
In a statement, NJ Transit said the “inappropriate tweet was written by an employee not authorized to post on social media.”
“ NJ Transit has since taken down the tweet and apologized to this reporter,” the statement said. “Moving forward, we will be tightening our protocols related to social media posting.”
The statement, sources confirmed, was referring to Kwon.
Both Kwon and Viqueira are at risk of losing their jobs, sources say.
New Jersey Transit CEO Kevin Corbett is scheduled to testify before the Senate Select Committee on New Jersey Transit on Friday.
Senate President Steve Sweeney chairs the panel, and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg is the vice chair.
Mader was hired by the Murphy administration to the $127,000 customer service job after leading a PATH rider’s council to advocate on behalf of commuters.
Before joining NJ Transit, Mader worked as a digital strategist for Fitch Ratings, a credit rating group.
The Globe reported in July that Viqueira, who had served as comptroller of the Democratic State Committee Victory 2017 committee and as treasurer of Gov. Phil Murphy’s inaugural committee, got a 19% increase — from $180,000 to $215,000 – after just 17 months on the job.