Murphy staffers to testify about rape allegations
TRENTON — Things are getting interesting with the joint legislative committee looking into the hiring practices of the Murphy administration.
Six of Gov. Phil Murphy's top staffers will testify about what they knew, and what they did, when confronted with the news a former campaign staffer was accusing another former campaign staffer of rape. Both were subsequently hired to work for the governor.
Katie Brennan was the first to testify before the committee, and over the course of five hours laid out a timeline that included her alleged rape by Al Alvarez when they both worked on Murphy’s campaign. She then detailed who she talked to over the span of 18 months as she sought justice.
During her testimony, Brennan listed the people she spoke with in Murphy’s office. They included Chief Counsel Matt Platkin, Deputy Chief Counsel Parimal Garg, Deputy Chief of Staff Justin Braz, and Chief Ethics Officer Heather Taylor. All four will appear before the committee, as will Murphy Chief of Staff Pete Cammarano and New Jersey Schools Development Authority Executive Director Lizette Delgado-Polanco.
Sources connected to the committee tell me they have yet to decide whether they will call Gov. Murphy. That decision will be made based on what these next witnesses have to say. Many committee members are already irritated by what they say are "strong suggestions" from the Murphy administration to wrap up these hearings or stop them entirely.
Murphy dismissed that notion at a news conference on Tuesday, and insisted his team is cooperating with the committee’s work. He also refused to commit to appearing before the committee if he were called.
What is clear is that these hearings will not wrap up anytime soon. The next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 18, and it is unlikely they could hear from all six of these new witnesses in one day. That means these hearings will certainly push into January and possibly beyond.
That’s not good news for Murphy, who has struggled mightily to accomplish any of his top agenda items in the first year of his term. It also gives Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly further leverage to use against Murphy in upcoming budget talks.
Eric Scott is Vice President, Senior Political Director and Director of Special Projects for New Jersey 101.5. He anchors "New Jersey's First News" and weekday morning newscasts from 5 to 10 a.m., in addition to hosting a monthly Town Hall series.
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