Gov. Phil Murphy’s re-election campaign has disassociated itself from the co-chairman of South Asians for Murphy after learning that he was the target of a sexual harassment complaint in 2019. Former Edison Democratic Municipal Chairman Shariq Ahmad was accused of harassing a state employee while he was serving as chief of staff to Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-Edison), according to a report in New Jersey Globe.
An investigation led to a finding against Ahmad, who was banned from the statehouse during his final year working on a legislative staff, the report said.
“In light of information recently made available, Mr. Ahmad will have no role as a volunteer supporter for the Murphy for Governor campaign,” said campaign manager Mollie Binotto. “The Governor has made it clear that this campaign will be a safe and inclusive environment that sets a best-in-class standard for progressive workplaces, including a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment or discrimination.”
Four days ago, Murphy headlined a virtual Democratic State Committee fundraiser led by Ahmad. Karabinchak was notified of the accusations leveled against his staffer in 2019 and the outcome of the internal probe. While Ahmad stopped going to Trenton with his boss, he remained on Karabinchak’s staff until he left last summer to work on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. “I’m not going to have any comment,” Karabinchak told the New Jersey Globe.
The complaint was filed under a new sexual harassment policy adopted after legislative hearings into the firings of Al Alvarez, a Murphy campaign staffer who joined the administration despite allegations that he had raped a campaign volunteer in 2017.
No charges were filed against Ahmad, who was accused of harassment but not assault. In a statement, Ahmad denied that he sexually harassed anyone. “The facts are incorrect and under dispute. I strongly deny any wrongdoing, and an appeal is still pending. It’s unfortunate that these things come out before it is finalized in what is supposed to be a secure and apolitical process,” Ahmad told the NJ Globe. “Additionally, I have never held a role in the Governor’s campaign.”
Ahmad identified himself as co-chair of South Asians for Murphy in an email related to the February 25 event he held with the governor.