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Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Weinberg slams Verniero report

By Nikita Biryukov, February 06 2019 4:31 pm

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg slammed former State Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero’s report on the hiring of Al Alvarez Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, this report falls short of the comprehensive investigation promised by the governor,” Weinberg said. “It fails to meet any reasonable standard for an investigation into the serious allegations of sexual assault, the screening practices for hiring public employees, the failure to take responsibility by key officials, the continued failure to find out what went wrong and the reasons why no real actions were taken to address the plight of the alleged assault survivor.”

Weinberg, who co-chairs the Select Committee on Oversight that is investigating the Alvarez’s hiring to the Schools Development Authority, has largely steered clear of the political feud between Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney, but Verniero’s report, which offered little that wasn’t already revealed by the committee’s investigation, changed that.

In particular, Weinberg focused on the report’s concurrence that former Murphy chief of staff Pete Cammarano, Murphy chief counsel Matt Platkin and Jose Lozano, who was executive director of Murphy’s transition team, did not hire Alvarez. Verniero’s report did not find out who was responsible for doing so.

“The report appears to make more of an effort to exonerate the principals who were involved or should have been involved than it does to shed light on this case.  There is no accountability and no one willing or able to take responsibility,” Weinberg said. “If the Administration does not know how Mr. Alvarez was hired even after completing their own investigation, this leaves many unknowns, including: were others hired without their knowledge and what standards were used to approve the hiring for high-level, public positions?”

State Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan has accused Alvarez of sexually assaulting her in April 2017, when Alvarez was in charge of Muslim and Latino outreach for Murphy’s campaign, for which Brennan would later volunteer.

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