State Senate President Steve Sweeney has called for the governor’s chief counsel, Matt Platkin, to resign over mishandling of sexual assault charges brought by Katie Brennan against another state worker.
“The system didn’t fail. She followed the system,” Sweeney said of Brennan, who in 2017 was a campaign volunteer for Phil Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign who reported to police she was sexually assaulted by Al Alvarez, another campaign volunteer.
Murphy strongly defended Platkin.
“Matt Platkin is an exceptional public servant, and I’m proud to have him serve on my team. He has been a leader in our fight to reform the EDA’s tax incentives programs to benefit the many, rather than the politically connected few,” said Murphy. “The Senate president’s remarks are completely out of line.”
Both Brennan and Alvarez were hired as chiefs of staff at different state agencies, and for about a year Brennan could not get anyone in the administration to take her complaints about Alvarez’s hiring seriously until she went public in a Wall Street Journal story in October.
“The people in charge of the system — they failed,” Sweeney said Wednesday during a Press of Atlantic City editorial board meeting.
Alvarez, who was hired as chief of staff at the Schools Development Authority in January 2018 and was given a raise to $140,000 a year, resigned in October after the story broke.
A state legislative panel released a report early this month saying Murphy’s administration mishandled Brennan’s report of the alleged attack.
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Sweeney said the administration’s slow investigation of the Brennan situation, and of problems with hiring and other practices at the Schools Development Authority, are in sharp contrast to the quick investigations that targeted Sweeney ally George Norcross and state Economic Development Authority tax breaks given to Norcross’ company and companies affiliated with Norcross in Camden.
“The looking the other way — the selective choosing of what’s bad and what’s good — the governor’s counsel, Matt Platkin, absolutely should resign,” Sweeney said. “Then the governor’s comments — his guys thought they did the right thing? Hiring people without qualifications, why is that OK? Why is that investigation taking so long, and how come it’s not public? Because it doesn’t fit his political narrative.”
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Sweeney said he believes Platkin lied under oath when testifying before a legislative committee. He said he hopes “some authority, whether a prosecutor or the attorney general, recognizes it. You can’t lie under oath.”
Platkin testified he never told Murphy about the 2017 allegations against Alvarez because of concerns about state Equal Employment Opportunity Commission confidentiality rules.
Two county prosecutors have declined to bring charges against Alvarez, who has denied the allegations.
Both Brennan and Alvarez have filed lawsuits in the matter.