It’s unclear who offered former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez that job.
Jose Lozano, the head of Gov. Phil Murphy’s transition team, said he was unaware who offered Alvarez, who has been accused of sexually assaulting State Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan, the job, though he said that wasn’t necessarily out of the ordinary.
During his testimony on Tuesday, Lozano repeatedly refrained to the difficulties the transition faced in moving forward with any sort of action based on Alvarez’s allegations.
While then-incoming Murphy chief of staff Pete Cammarano and transition counsel Rajiv Parikh were aware of the allegations against Alvarez, Brennan had not yet been identified as the accuser.
It might not be possible, Lozano said, to conduct an investigation without an accuser.
“The accuser never came forward, so it’s very difficult to act on something when you don’t have details,” Lozano said.
In December 2017, Lozano was informed of the allegations against Alvarez by both Cammarano and Parikh and asked by the latter to not discuss them with Alvarez.
Lozano said Parikh also told him he would not be discussing the allegations with Alvarez.
“I asked that question and counsel provided that he would not be asking him,” Lozano said. “There were specific reasons for it. He did not share with me what those were.”
Lozano said he never had a conversation with other senior members of the transition about briefing Murphy on the allegations against Alvarez, nor did he think about doing it himself.
Lozano said Parikh was the one to limit Alvarez’s authority on the transition, though it’s not clear how effective — if at all — those limits were.
Alvarez’s involvement in the hiring process continued after those limits were imposed, Lozano said, but it’s not exactly clear what the involvement entailed.