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Senate committee members will review nominee's background check

Originally appeared in The Associated Press on Tuesday, 3/27/01 9:10 PM

Investigators have expanded their examination into the background of the woman nominated to become New Jersey's treasurer, a state senator said Tuesday.

Staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee did not know why the investigation of Isabel Miranda was expanded or when it will be completed. Two state senators said Tuesday they plan to personally review Miranda's confidential background investigation before scheduling a hearing on her nomination to become state treasurer. Miranda on Tuesday also filed notice with the state's ethical standards commission that she would recuse herself from any dealings with U.S. Trust Company, Charles Schwab and Morgan Stanley. On Monday, Miranda denied a New York Times report that she was fired by Citibank five years ago for misusing expense accounts to carry on an extramarital affair.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. William L. Gormley, R-Atlantic, said Tuesday that he will not schedule Miranda's confirmation hearing until her background is reviewed. Her hearing had been scheduled for Monday. "I can't give you a deadline until I have seen the information," he said. Gormley said his request and an offer from Acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco to provide the information "was simultaneous."

Joining Gormley in the review will be Sen. John A. Lynch, D-Middlesex. The senators also asked that Attorney General John J. Farmer Jr. be present for the review, as well as his deputies that conducted the investigation. "If it doesn't answer the questions that we think will come up, we'll ask for an additional review," Gormley said.

Citing unnamed current and former employees of the New York-based bank, the Times reported that Miranda was forced to resign and escorted from her Manhattan office. Auditors found evidence that she and Donald Browne Jr., an executive in Citibank's San Francisco office, had charged the bank for cross-country trips to visit each other and for trips together to places like Palm Beach, Fla., the newspaper reported.

DiFrancesco, who nominated Miranda as treasurer last week, backed her fully Monday.

Both DiFrancesco and Miranda denied the report.

Miranda, who lives in DiFrancesco's hometown, is a longtime friend who once tutored his daughters.

The New Jersey State Police conducted a thorough background investigation of Miranda before her nomination was made and found nothing of concern, DiFrancesco said Monday.

In a letter to the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards, Miranda identified specific deputies who would handle all business with her former employer.

"She further directed that she be screened from any information or communication on any matters pertaining to these companies," Rita Strmensky, the commission's director, said in a statement.

The spokeswoman for DiFrancesco who delivered the statement did not know why those three companies were named. Strmensky did not return a telephone message Tuesday night.

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