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Loretta Weinberg. (Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Special committee may examine Alvarez hirings

By Nikita Biryukov, December 04 2018 4:10 pm

The special committee investigation into the hiring of former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez may end up looking into hirings Alvarez made himself when he was deputy director of personnel for Gov. Phil Murphy’s transition.

Committee co-chairs Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin did not clearly state one way or another whether they would look into those hires.

“If he chooses to come before us, we will have plenty of time to ask him questions,” Weinberg said.

Two members of the committee’s Senate cohort, Sen. Teresa Ruiz and Sen. Steve Oroho in October told the New Jersey Globe the matter could come up once the committee begins its hearings, and that chance could be amplified if Alvarez did not recuse himself from the hire of Katie Brennan, the chief of staff at the state’s Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency who has accused Alvarez of sexually assaulting her.

During her roughly four-and-a-half-hour-long testimony before the committee Tuesday, Brennan said her attorney sent a letter to Alvarez requesting he recuse himself from her hiring. It’s not clear whether he ever did.

“Mr. Alvarez held the authority to hire for my position, Brennan said. “As a result, my attorney sent Mr. Alvarez a letter requesting he recuse himself from the hiring process. I do not know what, if any, role he played in my hiring.”

If legislators are waiting to hear Alvarez’s testimony before deciding whether to examine his role on the transition, they might not have to wait very long.

The body has already requested Alvarez appear before them to testify. Michael Critchley, the attorney for the committee’s Senate half, said Alvarez is expected to respond to that request later Tuesday or on Wednesday.

If Alvarez declines the invitation, the committee can compel him to appear via subpoena.

Whatever Alvarez chooses to do, the committee will meet next on Dec. 18.

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