Platkin Under Questioning: ‘Who Hired Alvarez?’

Platkin

One of the mysteries of the unfolding Katie Brennan case is why Al Alvarez, the fellow Murphy administration official who allegedly raped her, took so long to leave his job.

On Friday, an equally perplexing issue arose. Just why was Alvarez hired in the first place as chief of staff for the Schools Development Authority?

It must be understood that political hires are often done with a wink and a nod. Connections obviously mean more than a resume and a cover letter. Everyone in politics knows that regardless of party,

Still, someone’s political connection is going to be known to someone. People really don’t just materialize one day and get an employee-ID badge. Or do they?

At what was now the fifth hearing of a special Legislative Committee on the fallout of Brennan’s allegation, Democratic Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor-Marin, the co-chair, asked, “Does anyone know who hired Mr. Alvarez?”  In posing her question, Marin, of Essex County, noted that previous testimony had established that no one had taken the responsibility of hiring Alvarez.

The “Who hired Alvarez” question was asked of Matthew Platkin, the governor’s chief counsel.

“I don’t, unfortunately, have knowledge of who hired Mr. Alvarez,” Platkin said.

Marin tried again.

“Could the governor maybe have hired him?” she asked,

Platkin said that Gov. Phil Murphy is not “typically involved” in hiring decisions of this type. That was an interesting response, no?  Saying Murphy is not “typically involved” in hiring is not the same as saying he was not involved in this hiring.

And so it went Friday. Just about all of the Murphy administration officials appearing before the committee have testified they did not tell Murphy about Brennan’s allegation because of legal advice.

And here was Platkin, the man responsible for most of that legal advice, sitting before the committee.  His opening statement quickly passed the buck – not to another individual, but to something much more amorphous – the murky world of employment policy.

Platkin said that when a sexual assault allegation occurs, one must tell only a “designated EEO officer,” and not even your own supervisor. Platkin’s supervisor would be the governor.

“You are required to maintain confidentiality to the fullest extent possible, and not share the allegation any wider than permitted by the EEO policy,” he said.

The committee has heard this line before. And often, members have said – as co-chair Loretta Weinberg, a Democratic senator from Bergen County, said Friday – the policy makes a broad exception for those with a “legitimate right to know.” The point was obvious. Didn’t the governor of the state have a “legitimate right to know” if one of his key staffers allegedly raped another one?

None of those who have testified – Platkin included – have given a satisfactory explanation to that one.

Platkin did say in his opening statement, and reiterated in answering questions that if he had to do it over again, he may have made a different decision.

At one point he explained, “These are judgment calls. They are not always easy.” And later, Platkin said with some obvious embellishment that he makes up to a “thousand decisions” a day.  Well, he could make a lot of decisions, but how many of them involve sexual assault allegations?

Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, a Republican from Union County, pointedly asked Platkin if he was part of a “cover-up?’

His answer, “Absolutely not.”

Anyone who has watched these hearings has to wonder about Murphy’s candid reaction to all this.

Testimony suggests the governor was shocked and upset when he eventually found out about the allegations last October. But there has been no testimony about the governor’s visceral reaction about being kept in the dark. Common sense suggests that a normal executive no matter the profession would be pretty peeved about that.

Republican Senator Kristin Corrado of Passaic County seemed to be moving in that direction when she asked Platkin if he considered resigning because of how all this is shaking out?

His answer was no.

And clearly, Murphy has not requested his resignation.

That’s surprising in itself, but considering the lack of accountability we’re seeing here among some administration officials, maybe not.

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5 responses to “Platkin Under Questioning: ‘Who Hired Alvarez?’”

  1. What started out as a campaign trail rape, seems to be mushrooming into a a spreading embarrassment in that the Governor’s staff allegedly doesn’t know what’s going on or who’s responsible for decisions made. Christie got thru a whole term, before Bridgegate; Murphy didn’t even make it far into his first term, before his staff began showing a gross ineptitude..

  2. Murphy was really “on it!” Still silence from Spartacus and his “tears of rage.” Hypocrites, liars and bumblers.

  3. “Platkin said that when a sexual assault allegation occurs, one must tell only a “designated EEO officer,” and not even your own supervisor.”

    And who creates laws like that? The same body of fools who are now tripping over them trying to get answers out of the people hiding behind them. Well done, Trenton!

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