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Editor’s Note: This story was updated with comment from Saidel at 4:56 p.m.
Gov. Phil Murphy batted aside a question about the qualifications of members of his public bank implementation board Thursday.
Many of those appointed to the 14-member board, led by state Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride, have no experience in banking.
Among those is Murphy’s senior advisor for diversity and urban affairs, Derrick Green, whose involvement in a 2012 campaign finance scandal in Bermuda drew criticism from Murphy’s opponents.
“I think it’s a great group of talented folks, not only is it a great team, but it includes especially my senior advisor Derrick Green who is 12 feet in front of me,” Murphy said when pressed on the board’s makeup Thursday.
The body includes many less controversial figures, including Treasurer Liz Muoio and Economic Development Authority CEO Kevin Quinn, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker.
Still, many other board members have little experience in banking.
Matthew Sidel, a spokesman for the governor, defended Green’s role on the board, echoing the governor by saying his inclusion would help the public bank reach traditionally underserved areas.
“Reverend Green is a well-respected colleague whose commitment to historically marginalized communities is second to none,” Saidel said. “He will be a valuable addition to the Public Bank Implementation Board, which is tasked with increasing access to capital for communities traditionally underserved by the financial sector.”
Green’s appointment to the board, however, has already drawn criticism from Republicans who sat on the select committee that investigated the hiring of former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez.
Alvarez was accused of sexually assaulting State Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan in April 2017, when Alvarez was in charge of Muslim and Latino outreach for Murphy’s campaign, for which Brennan would later volunteer.
The committee had broad authority to investigate hires made by Murphy’s administration but focused its efforts on investigating Alvarez’s hiring.
While some of the committee’s Republican members have called for the panel to restart its work and examine other Murphy hires, there’s been little such movement from select committee Democrats.
Put another way, there isn’t much fire at Murphy’s feet regarding Greene’s appointment.
“I’m incredibly proud of the team we’ve put together,” the governor said. “It was a big day. It has a long way to go.”