McKenna Says He Relayed Platkin Message to Alvarez to ‘Step Back from Government’

McKenna

Former Schools Development Authority Executive Charles McKenna showed up alone when he testified before the Select Committee on Investigation this afternoon. “The state’s paying enough for legal advice,” he said. “I’m going to lessen their burden.”

Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-29) asked him about Al Alvarez, whom he met following a Jan. 9th text message recommendation from Jose Lozano, who headed the Murphy Transition Team.

“I thought he was okay, he had worked in the Corzine administration… and went to work for the Murphy Campaign early on,” said the former boss of the man Katie Brennan accused of sexually assaulting her.

“He seemed like a decent individual to me,” McKenna said of his first meeting with his future chief of staff.

Following a subsequent meeting with Counsel Matt Platkin, the Schools Development Authority chief said he contacted Alvarez. This was in June of 2018.

“He was pretty calm about it. I said I spoke to someone in the administration. They told me something happened in the campaign, and because of that, you’re going to have to step back from government,” said McKenna, a self-described “Christie” holdover from the last administration.

“He seemed to understand,” McKenna said. “He said he had done nothing wrong, but didn’t want to put the governor in a bad position.”

Platkin told McKenna he didn’t have to fire Alvarez, but advised McKenna that Alvarez had to step back from government. He described Alvarez as an employee with a good attendance record who seemed to do a good job.

Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-21) asked McKenna if he had any curiosity about why the administration wanted Alvarez to step down. “They didn’t want me to know,” McKenna told her. “I had some curiosity, but the chain of command didn’t want me to know. …I was told in this instance that he just needed to look for a job.”

McKenna left his job on August 10th. Alvarez was still there, employed, at the time of McKenna’s departure.

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