TRENTON – Katie Brennan, who says Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2017 campaign and transition mishandled her complaints about a sexual assault, is criticizing Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli for a campaign ad that features her.

The Ciattarelli campaign has frequently made Brennan the centerpiece of its contention that Murphy mistreats or is dismissive of women. Brennan hadn’t publicly responded until Wednesday, when the campaign launched a website and digital advertisement on the topic.

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“Survivors are not your props. We are not your political pawns,” Brennan wrote on Twitter. “To use me as such, without my consent, is disrespecting survivors. It is disrespecting women.”

Brennan said she was raped in her home by a colleague on the Murphy campaign in 2017. The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office declined to bring charges. She voiced concerns to the Murphy transition later that year about what happened when the person she accuses, Al Alvarez, was placed in positions of authority in the transition and then the administration, but those concerns weren't acted on.

Brennan was hired as chief of staff at the Housing and Mortgage and Finance Agency but left that position earlier this year to become a senior advisor and housing and economic development issues to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The Ciattarelli campaign said the ad is the first in a planned series “targeting the serial mistreatment of women under Murphy.”

Former Sen. Diane Allen, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, cited examples from Murphy’s time at Goldman Sachs, his tenure as United States ambassador to Germany and the abuse of women prisons at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in speeches the day she was announced as Ciattarelli’s running mate.

“Gov. Murphy has continually covered up for powerful men throughout his career in government, politics and business at the expense of women who have stood up as victims of abuse, discrimination, misogyny and sexual assault,” Allen said in a statement announcing the ad campaign.

“No young woman should be forced to endure what Katie Brennan went through. Her courage in speaking out against the Murphy campaign's toxic culture took great strength and is rightfully admired by young women regardless of party affiliation,” said campaign spokeswoman Stami Williams.

"Gov. Murphy, on the other hand, should be ashamed of his behavior,” Williams said. “At best, he is guilty of a stunning lack of leadership and empathy about what is happening within his own campaign after receiving Ms. Brennan's email, and at worst, a willingness to sweep sexual assault under the rug to get elected governor.”

A number of Democrats, some of whom worked with Brennan on efforts to improve the state’s sexual assault laws, expressed solidarity and criticized the ad.

Others supported the Republican campaign efforts.

The election is Nov. 2. The first debate is set for Sept. 28.

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