Patrick Murray: ‘No smoking gun’ so far in legislative inquiry

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

The Select Oversight Committee is taking a very thorough walk through a rape allegation within the Murphy camp. What we’re seeing is how the accusation got talked about for 18 months, without any action being taken against the alleged perpetrator. Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron talked to political observer, and director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, Patrick Murray and asked him what’s the take away from Tuesday’s hearing.

Murray: Right now it sounds like the committee is trying to lay some ground work about gaps in the Murphy team’s approach to dealing with what they heard about Alvarez. You know, right now it’s difficult to tell because, you know, they really didn’t know a lot of information, they didn’t know who the victim was. But did they have a process in place, considering this day and age, Murphy’s credentials as a progressive leader, about taking these kinds of charges seriously when they came about. So now we’re hearing things about whether they did try to lock down Alvarez a little bit, but they still gave him position and who knew what at what point. There’s no smoking gun about anything right now. We just are starting to get a bit of evidence that there were points where questions could have been raised a little bit more than they were. But we don’t know why.

Aron: Did you hear any damning testimony or anything damaging to the governor?

Murray: So far I didn’t hear anything damaging to the governor because every single person who’s testified so far said they did not tell the governor and they were instructed not to share that information any further than they had it. So that part of it seems to be, you know, where the governor seems to be clear at this level. It’s simply what were the processes in place in a Murphy transition, in a Murphy administration, to deal with these kinds of allegations.

Aron: I thought the key testimony was Cammarano saying that there are occasions when he wished that he’d told the governor sooner. What was your take on that?

Murray: I think my take on that is, you know, if you’re the chief of staff of a governor, you want to make sure that governor is protected. And in this case he thought he was told by council that he couldn’t tell the governor, but you want to share something with the governor so that the governor will be prepared as something comes down the road. But, you know, this is a very tricky situation, there are HR rules involved, and I think, you know, we heard testimony that people felt like they were following the rules as they knew them. And that’s why I think we’re only right now hearing some kind of, a level of just laying the groundwork for whether the Murphy administration and the Murphy transition followed best practices in HR in terms of dealing with these allegations. I think a lot of individuals involved wish they had pursued this a little bit more in retrospect, but right now we haven’t really heard anything that’s really a smoking gun or a bombshell.

So we’re witnessing the anatomy of a communications breakdown. Tuesday’s testimony points to chief counsel Matt Platkin as someone the committee is going to want to hear from.