For a few days this week, it looked like the clandestine person who hired Al Alvarez might be back in action. Or that the state might be in some sort of bizzarro moment, like the Seinfeld episode when Kramer protests getting fired by saying, “I don’t even really work here.”
The mystery began when Elton Custis, who won 23% of the vote in an off-the-line Democratic primary challenge to Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphan in June, posted on his LinkedIn page that he was now a “Senior Advisor at State of New Jersey.”
Since it was unclear how senior he was or who he was advising, the New Jersey Globe reached out to Custis and asked him.
He confirmed that he works at the Department of Human Services.
“I’m in charge of special grants and operations,” he said.
But when Custis, a former Camden school board member, was asked if he would say who hired him, he dodged.
“No, I can’t,” he said. Asked if he would disclose his salary, it was the same answer: “No, I can’t.”
It took a few days to unravel the circumstances of Custis’ September 21 hiring.
“Mr. Custis was hired by the state-contracted temp agency called 22nd Century,” said Tom Hester, Jr., a spokesman for the Department of Human Services. “Typically, the temp agency identifies candidates who meet the criteria requested by the state and provides responsive resumes.”
Hester said that Custis’ resume “was reviewed and approved” by the Office of Planning, Research, Evaluation, Prevention & Olmstead. He’s been assigned to the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services and is not a state employee.
The temp agency is paid $48-per-hour, but it’s not clear how much of that amount – about $98,840-per-year – winds up in Custis’ pocket.
Asked by the New Jersey Globe who he reported to, Custis said he had no boss.
“No one right at the moment,” he explained. “They’re looking for a supervisor.”
Hester disputed Custis’ claim that he that he was enjoying some version of self-employment, despite his status as a temporary employee of a subcontractor.
“He absolutely has a supervisor,” Hester stated.
Custis, who appears to have overstated his title on a LinkedIn page that the state has no responsibility for, doesn’t appear on the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services table of organization and offices.
No one does. The organization chart on the state website says it’s “under construction.”
Sarah Adelman, the acting commissioner of Human Services, did not immediately respond to a voice mail and text message to her cell phone on Wednesday.