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Senate President Steve Sweeney. (Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Sweeney announces Alvarez hiring probe

Four Democrats, two Republicans on panel

By Nikita Biryukov, October 16 2018 1:22 pm

Senate President Steve Sweeney on Tuesday announced the creation of a special committee to investigate the hiring of former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez, who resigned after an inquiry about sexual assault allegations made by Katie Brennan, who is chief of staff at the state’s housing agency.

“We expect the full cooperation of the administration so that we can obtain a full accounting and take the necessary actions to prevent these abuses from happening again,” Sweeney said.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who was the first Senate Democrat to call for such an investigation will sit on the six-member committee, as will Sens. Teresa Ruiz, Sandra Cunningham, Fred Madden, Steve Oroho and Kristin Corrado.

It’s not yet clear if the Assembly will launch a similar investigation. Republicans in the lower chamber have made calls for such a probe, but Democrats have largely been silent on the matter thus far.

“The account of the assault on Ms. Brennan was heart wrenching and repulsive,” said Sweeney. “And the repeated failures of authorities to hear her voice and respond to her attempts to achieve justice made me frustrated and angry. We need a full accounting of what went wrong and what needs to be done so that sexual survivors are heard, that they are treated with respect and compassion, and that they can trust the system to provide justice.”

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One thought on “Sweeney announces Alvarez hiring probe

  1. What about the sexual harassment he covered up with Diane Kirwan

    https://law.justia.com/cases/new-jersey/appellate-division-unpublished/2010/a2152-08-opn.html

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/articles.nj.com/south/index.ssf/2008/08/woman_who_filed_failed_sexual.amp

    Plaintiff began her employment with the County of Gloucester in 1974. In 1986, plaintiff began working as a part-time volunteer for the Democratic Party. In the early 1990s, plaintiff met Stephen Sweeney, who was then a County Freeholder. Plaintiff alleged that Sweeney sexually harassed her. Plaintiff has since dismissed these claims, but we review them briefly because they relate to defendants’ initially successful motion for sanctions.

    By plaintiff’s account, Sweeney made three distinct sexual remarks to plaintiff. Standing at the bar during a 1998 political fundraiser, Sweeney allegedly remarked: “Dianne, get naked for me.” Two years later, Sweeney indicated that it would be nice to get into a hotel Jacuzzi with plaintiff. Plaintiff responded that she had no bathing suit, to which Sweeney quipped: “You wouldn’t need a bathing suit with me.” Lastly, when plaintiff asked if Sweeney was being kept up after he yawned during a nighttime political meeting, Sweeney stated that plaintiff “could keep him up any time.” Plaintiff rejected Sweeny’s salacious invitations.

    As a result, Sweeney allegedly “became very distant and quite rude” between 2003 and 2004. On certain occasions, Sweeney allegedly grabbed materials from plaintiff’s hands and refused to allow plaintiff to participate in political meetings. Plaintiff even began to notice some of Sweeney’s staff adopt the same attitude. After plaintiff became a Democratic party employee in 2005, Sweeney accused her of disloyalty and of misappropriating confidential information.

    Plaintiff was dismissed from her position with the Democratic Party in 2006. Based on conversations with superiors at the party headquarters, plaintiff allegedly learned that Sweeney procured her dismissal in retaliation for plaintiff’s romantic rejections and for her failure to support Sweeney’s candidate for sheriff. Plaintiff alleges that Sweeney demanded that plaintiff be fired from her County position as well.

    In 1989, plaintiff began full-time work as a secretary to former Freeholder Stephen Salvatore. In the same year, plaintiff met defendant James B. Cannon, the County Personnel Director. Plaintiff, who was going through a divorce at the time, confided in Cannon about her marital problems, her brother’s and father’s alcoholism, and drug-related problems in her family. Cannon helped plaintiff paint and move into her new condominium, establish her son’s college fund, and obtain a job transfer.

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