NJ Politics Digest: Report Suggests Officials Mishandled the Alvarez Case

A legislative panel investigating rape allegations involving a top member of Gov. Phil Murphy's campaign has issued a scathing report, blasting top administration officials for failing to seriously address the accusations, mishandling the investigation and—most damningly—allegedly misleading lawmakers who were probing the incident.

New Jersey State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal
New Jersey State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. Office of the Attorney General / Tim Larsen

A legislative panel investigating rape allegations against a member of Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign has issued a scathing report, blasting top administration officials for failing to seriously address the accusations, mishandling the investigation and—most damningly—allegedly misleading lawmakers who were probing the incident.

Now, Republicans on the committee investigating the incident are raising “serious concern” over the question of whether testimony by some Murphy staffers before the panel “may have been intentionally perjurious,” as NJ.com reports.

During its investigation, the legislative select committee couldn’t find anyone in the Murphy administration who admitted to knowing who hired Albert J. Alvarez for a $140,000-per-year job at the state Schools Development Authority. Alvarez had served as the Murphy campaign’s head of Muslim and Latino outreach.

Campaign volunteer Katie Brennan accused Alvarez of raping her following a gathering of campaign personnel. Alvarez, who was never charged with a crime following two investigations into the incident, denies the allegation.

The legislative committee’s report said Murphy administration officials provided “evasive or misleading testimony” when before the panel, NJ.com reported.

The report focused on former Murphy Chief of Staff Pete Cammarano and the head of Murphy’s transition team, Jose Lozano, both of whom it said allegedly knew of the rape allegation against Alvarez. But as the news site reports, the legislative committee’s report said the evidence shows both men made the decision to hire Alvarez. Both have publicly denied hiring him.

It’s unclear what legal ramifications the committee report will have for the two men or how state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, a Murphy appointee who told the legislature it need not look further into the Brennan matter following his office’s review of the incident, will respond to concerns by Republican members of the committee over possible perjury by witnesses.

Quote of the Day: “It is incomprehensible that the administration could not ascertain who hired Mr. Alvarez, if it wanted to. The professed lack of knowledge appears to have been purposeful and not inadvertent,” — A report by the legislative committee investigating hiring practices by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration following rape accusations against a Murphy associate who was later given a high-paying state job.

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NJ Politics Digest: Report Suggests Officials Mishandled the Alvarez Case