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Albert Alvarez

Select Committee will hold first full Alvarez hearing in December

Organizational meeting planned shortly after election day

By Nikita Biryukov, October 29 2018 5:02 pm

The Select Committee investigating Gov. Phil Murphy’s Administration’s hiring of Al Alvarez will hold an organizational meeting on Nov. 8 or Nov. 9 and will hold its first full hearing in December, said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who is co-chair of the Senate side of the committee.

The legislature passed the resolution creating the committee on Monday, with a vote of 37-0 in the Senate and 74-0-1 in the Assembly.

Assembly members James Kennedy, Mila Jasey, Pamela Lampitt did not vote. Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez abstained. In the Senate, three members – Joseph Lagana, Ronald Rice and Shirley Turner – did not vote.

The resolution passed after a small amendment that would delay the committee’s investigation into the Hudson County Prosecutor’s handling of the charges leveled by Katie Brennan until after the Attorney General’s office finished its review of the same.

Brennan, who is chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, filed charges with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office in the days immediately following her alleged sexual assault. The office chose not to pursue a case against Alvarez, who resigned from his post at the Schools Development Authority earlier this year.

Hudson Prosecutor Esther Suarez has come under fire for not pursuing charges against Alvarez, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor is now investigating Brennan’s accusations.

“What it really does is give the Middlesex prosecutor the ability to complete his investigation before we pull in,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said of the amendment. “We don’t want to put the prosecutor in Hudson in a situation where we say we want her to come in, the attorney general says ‘she can’t.’ You know, that doesn’t work.”

It’s still not clear how long the committee’s investigation will last.

Sweeney was a bit cagey on the subject when asked about a timeline for the committee’s investigation during a press gaggle following the day’s voting session.

“It’ll take whatever it takes,” Sweeney said.

If the hearings drag on, they could go into the start of budget season. Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, who is co-chair for the Assembly’s half of the committee, serves as chair of the Assembly Budget Committee

It’s also not yet clear whether Brennan will testify before the committee. Sweeney said that decision would be up to the committee’s co-chairs.

It’s also unclear how extensively the committee will use its subpoena power. That power requires approvals from the committee’s co-chairs, vice chairs Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz and Sen. Kristin Corrado, Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.

“It’s going to be used when it’s needed to be used,” Sweeney said. “We’re planning on people cooperating, we really are. We’re hopeful everyone cooperates.”

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