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Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. (Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Weinberg won’t rule out calling more witnesses on Alvarez

By Nikita Biryukov, February 26 2019 3:42 pm

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg would not rule out calling additional witnesses before the Select Committee on Oversight investigating the hiring of former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez.

“We’re taking it all under advisement as we, first of all, review today’s testimony. We’ll then make a decision,” Weinberg, who is one of the committee’s co-chairs, said when asked if the committee would hold further hearings or call additional witnesses.

Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, the committee’s other co-chair, yesterday told the New Jersey Globe that Tuesday’s hearing could be the last the committee holds.

With Tuesday’s testimony concluded, the committee will review past testimony and author legislative recommendations. The panel’s attorneys will also author a report on their findings about Alvarez’s hiring.

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

Alvarez later became deputy director of personnel for Murphy’s transition team and eventually landed at the SDA before resigning on Oct. 2, 2018.

It’s not yet clear when the committee will release its findings, but it’s clear the committee won’t finish its work before the end of February, as it had planned.

That self-imposed deadline was instituted for the benefit of Pintor Marin, who chairs the Assembly Budget Committee.

“I had imposed that deadline. It was important for me and I think it was important for the budget committee, and I’m sure Sen. [Paul] Sarlo would agree with that too,” Pintor Marin said. “But I think once we get all the information that we heard today, we really digest it, we talk to each other, we come up with some real ideas — it might go a little longer than what it was that I thought it was going to be.”

Murphy’s budget address is slated for March 5, so the committee still has a handful of days before budget season kicks in, but it’s more than possible that Pintor Marin will see her schedule become yet-tighter if the Select Committee’s work does not come to an end soon.

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