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Chief Counsel Matt Platkin in Trenton, N.J. on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. (Office of Attorney General / Tim Larsen)

Platkin: I never recused

By Nikita Biryukov, January 18 2019 2:11 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy Chief Counsel Matt Platkin on Friday told the Special Committee convened to investigate the hiring of former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez that, contrary to statements by others, he never recused himself from matters concerning Alvarez.

Numerous administration officials have testified they believed Platkin had recused himself from matters concerning Alvarez and state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan, who has accused Alvarez of sexually assaulting her in April, 2017, when they were both part of Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign.

Murphy’s former chief of staff Pete Cammarano last week testified that Platkin had recused himself only from an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint Platkin reported on Brennan’s behalf, but even that isn’t quite right.

Platkin said he never recused himself from the matter at all, though he did inform Heather Taylor, the governor’s chief ethics officer and the one that forwarded the complaint to the state Attorney General’s office, that he was potentially conflicted and would not participate further in the EEO complaint.

He never issued a formal recusal, Platkin said.

The Attorney General’s office ruled they did not have jurisdiction over Brennan’s case because neither she nor Alvarez were government employees at the time and the alleged assault did not occur on state property a few days after the complaint was filed.

Following that dismissal, Platkin said he was not told of any ongoing recusal nor was he informed that he had an actual conflict of interest.

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