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Heather Taylor, chief ethics officer in the governor's office. (Photo by Nikita Biryukov)

Taylor: Brennan EEO process was irregular

By Nikita Biryukov, January 10 2019 6:25 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy’s Chief Ethics Officer Heather Taylor said during testimony before the Select Committee on Oversight Thursday that, as far as she was aware, typical procedures were not followed in the handling of an equal employment opportunity case about Katie Brennan’s alleged assault.

Taylor said she was notified of the complaint by Murphy Chief Counsel Matt Platkin, her boss, in March. She referred the case and information about Brennan and Al Alvarez, the former Schools Development Authority chief of staff accused of assaulting Brennan in April 2017, to the Attorney General’s office shortly thereafter.

About two days later, the attorney general’s office informed her that they did not have jurisdiction over the case because, at the time, Brennan and Alvarez were not state employees.

Staff at the Attorney General’s office advised Taylor that the campaign could conduct an investigation, but no further detail on what that investigation might entail was provided, nor was it clear that the campaign had the resources to conduct such an investigation.

Typically, the EEO branch of the Attorney General’s office would notify Brennan of this determination, but a staffer there eschewed that policy, and Platkin reached out directly to Taylor to ask her to contact Brennan about the EEO office’s determination.

During that call, Platkin asked Taylor if she thought Brennan would be inclined to go to the press after being made aware the EEO investigation was shut down. After the call with Brennan, Taylor told the chief counsel via text that Brennan did not bring it up, so she considered her going to the press unlikely.

After Alvarez resigned in October following a press inquiry into the incident, Platkin asked Taylor to find the reason for a $30,000 raise Alvarez received weeks before his departure.

Taylor said she had never done that before. She’s held her position since 2014.

SDA Executive Director Lizette Delgado-Polanco told the committee on Tuesday that she was told by Murphy chief of staff Pete Cammarano that Alvarez would be leaving the position not long after she took over the authority in August of 2018.

She said she gave Alvarez the raise to attract a replacement after he left the job.

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