It’s a shame this committee spent so much time focused on how Katie Brennan was hired rather than examining how her warnings about Al Alverez were ignored.
Trenton –The New Jersey Select Oversight Committee kicked off its investigation into the Murphy administration’s hiring practices. Instead of focusing on the accused rapist who was hired as chief of staff at the New Jersey Schools Development Authority at $120,000/year, almost every member of the committee turned their attention to something else: key witness and survivor Katie Brennan’s hiring.
While responding to questions from the committee, Katie noted that she did not have a formal interview for her position as chief of staff at the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. Committee members quickly latched on and tried to hide their judgement behind soothing voices and empathetic nod, but the implication was clear: Why was Katie Brennan hired?
At its best, this line of questioning suggests that there is a problem in the formal hiring process for state employees. At its worst, it suggests that Katie was hired to placate her after her alleged assailant was hired for a position requiring the two to interface with some regularity.
Before the narrative changes from rightful indignation that top officials ignored several very serious warnings about a campaign staffer that would go on to work for the administration, let me just share this tidbit from today’s testimony:
Mr. Critchley: Katie, can you please give us the benefit of your educational background?
Ms. Brennan: I went to undergrad in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was an English major. I had three minors. I moved to Chicago, then I moved to New Jersey to get my Masters in city and regional planning at the Bloustein School.
Mr. Critchley: Can you give us the benefit of your work experience prior to working at the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency?
Ms. Brennan: I’ve always worked in affordable housing. In Chicago I worked for essentially the equivalent of the Network that we have here in New Jersey, the Housing and Community Development Network, but for Chicago. In graduate school I worked for various professors and had internships at Enterprise, which is a tax credit syndicater. Then I actually worked for HMFA right out of grad school. I worked for the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency position called management associate upon graduating with my Masters. I then went to Monarch Housing where I was a development consultant. So, you know, whether it’s a housing authority, or a nonprofit, or even a private developer that needs additional staff assistance, I was their development staff. Then I went to Hudson County where I ran the affordable housing program for the county of Hudson. And now I’m here.
Katie Brennan’s impressive professional bona fides should not be in question. It’s a shame this committee spent so much time focused on how Katie was hired rather than examining how her warnings about Al Alverez were ignored. Besides, campaigns and transitions can kinda be a tryout for government jobs in the winner’s administration. This isn’t unique to Governor Murphy. Katie Brennan’s stellar resume was already prioritized by that point. So if she didn’t have a formal interview, it’s because she’s already proven her worth to any gatekeeper.
While we all recognize Katie’s strength for coming forward about the assault, let’s make sure we remember that Katie has always been a strong, intelligent, excessively capable woman who also happens to be a survivor.
Jay Lassiter is friends with far too many women in NJ politics who deal with this (redacted.)