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District 9 Lawmakers: Taxpayers Likely Footing Excessive Legal Bill for Latest Controversial State Hiring

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Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove (R-9) released the following statement on the Murphy Administration’s controversial hiring of certain officials, and the Legislature’s subsequent plans to hold hearings on the matter, stating that taxpayers will ultimately be forced to foot the bill.

District 9 lawmakers comment on the Murphy Administration’s controversial hiring of certain officials, and the Legislature’s plans to hold hearings on the matter, stating that taxpayers will ultimately be forced to foot the bill. (Pixabay)

“The intensifying controversy into how an individual accused and investigated for sexual assault was hired by the state took on another alarming dimension that taxpayers will, ultimately, foot the legal bill for. Mind you, this is not to be confused with the controversial hiring of a bribery-convicted ex-politician for a $70,000 a-year-position with the New Jersey Department of Education, who has since resigned after a firestorm of criticism.

“Recently, it was announced that Governor Murphy hired a politically-connected law firm to investigate the hiring by his gubernatorial transition team of, Albert Alvarez, to a $140,000 position with the New Jersey Schools Development Authority. The flashpoint of the controversy is that Mr. Alvarez was hired despite known allegations that he had been accused of sexual assault by another Murphy campaign worker.

“The individual who brought forth the allegations against Mr. Alvarez has publicly stated that the justice system failed her. To say the least, the potential system breakdown warrants investigation by the appropriate authorities given the severity of allegations and, more broadly, our society’s clear and pressing need to address sexual assault and sexual harassment.

“As controversies and scandal often do, the situation quickly turned sideways to the detriment of taxpayers. Hiring a high-powered, politically-connected law firm on the taxpayer dime to conduct a “thorough” investigation had to be the answer. Yes, we’ve all seen this before with Bridgegate. Experience has taught us that “thorough” means lots of billable hours for the law firm to charge its client – that is we, the taxpayers.

“There is another dimension to this controversy that is infuriating. In the case of hiring the bribery-convicted ex-politician, Governor Murphy lectured critics of the hiring about the need to give people “second chances.” In his own words, the Governor stated that the hiring of the bribery-convicted ex-politician was a “teaching moment.”

“Suffice to say, we interpret this to mean that persons, such as ourselves and like-minded constituents, are somehow mistaken or misguided by having zero tolerance for political corruption and taking a very dim view of persons who commit such crimes against the public they were entrusted to serve.

“Just how much is the Governor’s willingness to give second chances, especially to political allies, going to cost us?

“In the case of the convicted ex-politician hired by the state, where is the concern for the qualified, law-abiding person who was denied a first opportunity to fill an important position? In the case of Mr. Alvarez, why do taxpayers have to foot the likely high-priced legal bill, when the money could otherwise be spent on more pressing issues, such as services for sexual assault victims?

“Both houses of the State Legislature have moved to conduct joint hearings on the controversy – just like Bridgegate – adding yet more complexity to the controversy to be played out before it is all over. All so taxpayers can pay for a 100-plus page report and legislative hearings that do little more than state the obvious: our state should be more diligent when hiring employees, including political allies for high-paying positions. “

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The 9th District Team

Chris Connors

Senator - District 9

Brian Rumpf

Assemblyman - District 9

DiAnne Gove

Assemblywoman - District 9

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