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Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Murphy leans on past statements after surprise Alvarez question

Governor to hold press conference on the matter Thursday

By Nikita Biryukov, February 06 2019 8:27 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy fell back on statements released over the past two days when asked a surprise question about former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez during a telephone town hall Wednesday night.

A caller going by the name Anthony and claiming to be a student in his last year at Rutgers University was put on the line. The caller began to ask a question about minimum wage but instead asked who hired Alvarez.

“Anthony, not the question you had said you were going to ask, obviously, but here’s what I’ll say to that. I put out a statement today about a report that came — an investigation into this whole matter that came out this morning at eight o’clock,” Murphy said. “I put out a lengthy statement related to that. I would encourage you to read that. I’m also going to speak with the press tomorrow. There was another report put out last night, a shorter report, on how we can improve government policies and procedures.”

The governor’s public schedule for Thursday had not been sent out as of 8:20 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Murphy was referring to a report put out by former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero on the hiring of Alvarez. That report, which presented little new information, has drawn attacks from both sides of the aisle.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, co-chair of the Select Committee investigating Alvarez’s hiring, said the report seemed more concerned with protecting those involved than finding the truth, and committee vice-chair State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) responded to the report by calling for Murphy to testify before the committee.

State Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan has claimed that Alvarez raped her in April 2017, when he was in charge of Muslim and Latino outreach for Murphy’s campaign, for which Brennan would alter volunteer.

In a statement, Brennan said that while she supported the recommendations in Verniero’s report, she thought further reforms were needed.


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