Gov. Murphy names former top counsel to be NJ's attorney general

Gov. Phil Murphy has named his former chief counsel to be the state’s next attorney general.
Murphy unveiled Matt Platkin as his pick in Trenton on Thursday about six months after Gurbir Grewal stepped down to take a post with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“As attorney general, my highest priority will always be keeping our residents safe,” Platkin said during the announcement.
Platkin, 35, served as the Murphy administration’s top attorney overseeing pending bills and executive orders for the governor from the start of the administration in early 2018 until late 2020. He left to take a post at the firm Lowenstein Sandler where he handled white collar cases and business disputes.
“The attorney general is given a layer of independence, as I noted earlier. The attorney general isn't the governor's lawyer, but the people's lawyer,” Murphy said.
Platkin grew up in Florham Park, attended college and law school in California, but returned to New Jersey and was the first volunteer early in the governor's 2017 campaign.
“Throughout my career, I worked to strengthen our laws and make New Jersey a better state to live and work. Plain and simple: I love this state and everything that it stands for,” Platkin said.
Platkin could face questions during his confirmation hearing about his handling of rape allegations against former Murphy administration campaign worker and later state official Al Alvarez. He testified that he kept Gov. Murphy in the dark for months about those allegations against Alvarez from campaign volunteer Katie Brennan. Some in the Legislature said he misled them during their investigation.
Platkin will also face questions for his role in drafting the first round of executive orders during the pandemic, including the closure of small, non-essential business, while big box stores like Home Depot remained open.
He said that he would work to protect New Jersey residents’ civil rights.
“We must acknowledge that for too many the trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve is broken. We will redouble our efforts to repair that trust,” Platkin said.
Platkin must face a hearing in front of the state Senate and confirmation vote to get a full term as attorney general. But Murphy will install him as acting attorney general starting Feb. 14.
Platkin took a brief hiatus from the Murphy administration in early 2020 to assist Democratic Sen. Cory Booker in the first impeachment trial of then-President Donald Trump.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.