State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) on Thursday said she thought the Select Oversight Committee’s focus on who hired former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez may be impeding the committee’s stated mission.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we’re focusing on who hired him for $140,000 when we should be focusing on Katie Brennan and how you handle the hiring practices,” Corrado, who is one of the committee’s two vice chairs, told the New Jersey Globe. “I think that has distracted somewhat from our hearings.”
State Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan has accused Alvarez of sexually assaulting her in April 2017, when they were both involved in Gov. Phil Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign.
At the time, Brennan was a volunteer for the campaign, for which Alvarez was in charge of Muslim and Latino outreach.
The Committee has sought identity of the person that hired Alvarez with increasing vigor since it began holding hearings on the matter in early December.
So far, a number of high-level officials in Murphy’s administration and transition, including now-former chief of staff Pete Cammarano, chief counsel Matt Platkin and transition executive director Jose Lozano have denied hiring Alvarez, who was deputy director of personnel for the transition, for his role at the SDA.
Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Summit), also a Select Committee vice chair, on Tuesday told the New Jersey Globe that she believed Alvarez hired himself.
“I think Al Alvarez hired Al Alvarez,” Munoz said Tuesday, adding later: “Nobody actually claims to have hired him, so who hired him?”
Corrado did not share that view, though she said it was likely Alvarez picked a high-level job at the SDA and then had it approved by a member of Murphy’s team.
“I think somebody in the administration hired him,” she said. “I don’t really think he could have hired himself, as silly as that does sound. That’s what it’s been indicating, and if he had the ability to pick the position, he was certainly connected to somebody high up.”
Transition Counsel Raj Parikh is set to testify before the committee on Friday, and Cammarano has been called back for a third day of testimony, but it’s not clear whether or not he will voluntary appear before the committee again.
The committee has the ability to issue subpoenas, but that power requires agreement from the committee’s co-chairs, vice chairs, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.
So far, no it has not issued any subpoenas.