Senators Say Employment Concerns Extend Far Beyond the Hiring of Alvarez
Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40) and Senator Steven Oroho (R-24) said the New Jersey Legislative Select Oversight Committee (LSOC) should fulfill its mission of investigating the numerous questionable hires that have been publicized across the administration of Governor Phil Murphy.
Sen. Kristin Corrado and Sen. Steven Oroho said the New Jersey Legislative Select Oversight Committee should fulfill its mission of investigating the numerous questionable hires across the Murphy Administration. (SenateNJ.com)
“When I first called for hearings into the hiring practices of the Murphy Administration, the article revealing the allegations made against Al Alvarez had not been published yet,” said Corrado, a vice-chair of the LSOC. “Within a short period of time, however, we had several examples of people who were hired by the Governor that raised serious concerns. While our committee was formed to investigate these hirings in total, we have focused to date almost exclusively on Alvarez’s employment. It’s imperative that we not overlook our larger mission and what we seek to accomplish to protect both our valued public employees and New Jersey taxpayers.”
Corrado and Oroho highlighted other concerning hires of the Murphy Administration that have yet to be investigated by the select committee.
Marcellus Jackson, a former Passaic City councilman convicted of federal corruption charges for accepting bribes in an FBI sting operation, was hired as a $70,000 special assistant in the Department of Education. Prior to his hire, Jackson worked on Governor Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign. His employment in government was prohibited by State law due to his prior conviction. Governor Murphy defended the illegal employment of Jackson, saying his “breath was taken away” by the negative reaction he received when the news of the hiring became public.
Derrick Green is reported to have been paid $2 million by the Murphy campaign for consulting work. He previously was under investigation for his role in a major campaign finance scandal in Bermuda. Green was hired into a $140,000 position in the Secretary of State’s office. Employees of that office report not knowing Green or ever seeing him in the office, leading to questions about the validity of his taxpayer funded position.
Since the select committee began meeting, a new accusation has been made public by a senior official at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) who says she was retaliated against after reporting a hostile work environment while working on the Governor’s campaign.
Alison Kopicki, who served as a vice president at the NJEDA, resigned her post in response to the alleged retaliation.
Just yesterday, a story was published detailing mass layoffs of career officials at the Schools Development Authority (SDA) to make room for nepotism and patronage hires by the head of the agency put in place by Governor Murphy.
The SDA is the same agency that had employed Alvarez, who is reported to have been directly involved in some of the terminations. Further, the SDA is the successor to the failed Schools Construction Corporation (SCC), which was abolished after wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars due to mismanagement and lax oversight.
“There is a disturbing pattern of questionable hires by the Murphy Administration that has never been investigated in full or reasonably explained,” said Oroho, a member of the LSOC. “The tone at the top sets the standard for all administrations. So we need to understand how this administration seemed unable to uncover concerns that could have been found with simple Internet searches. And in some cases, it seems likely that the Governor was aware of concerns or employment prohibitions and yet they were still approved. To prevent a recurrence, the select committee must understand how our State’s employment processes failed or were bypassed in each of these instances. We can’t fulfill our mission if the committee’s work is cut short.”