Skip to comments.New Jersey’s Jim McGreevey: America’s Most Corrupt Governor?
Posted on 09/01/2004 9:25:47 AM PDT by mrustow
New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey is the embodiment of a new reality, in which homosexuality is the last refuge of scoundrels.
New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey has managed to snatch martyrdom from the jaws of damnation. He would have the public believe that he didn't resign his governorship on August 12 because of the scandals that sprouted from his administration like crabgrass, but because he was the victim of a homophobic society.
In McGreevey's resignation speech, he said, ''My truth is that I am a gay American. Shamefully, I engaged in adult consensual affairs with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony. It was wrong, it was foolish, it was inexcusable.''
That would suggest that the following matters, for which McGreevey did not apologize, were neither foolish nor inexcusable:
The attorney general's office has been run by handpicked McGreevey men, who have conducted themselves more like Mafia consigliere than the leaders of state law enforcement. McGreevey's first AG, David Samson, literally walked away from corruption charges in the State Police's background investigation of McGreevey nominee for State Police superintendent, Joseph Santiago. Rather than aggressively investigate the same charges, Samson's number two man and successor, Peter Harvey, covered them up. Harvey has also refused to investigate serious charges against other McGreevey appointees, is suspected of having sandbagged federal corruption investigations, has trampled on the state constitution, and though he has been surrounded by corruption, to my knowledge has never cracked a single corruption case. Such aggressive dereliction of duty may or may not be indictable -- that's for the feds to determine -- as obstruction of justice, but it's still corruption. Harvey's deputy, Vaughn McKoy, has come up with his own creative ruses to avoid doing his job.
And as Robert Schwaneberg wrote in Capital Report, back in March, 2003, when state Sen. Robert Martin (R-Morris) cast the lone vote against Harvey's nomination on the state judiciary committee, Harvey retaliated by having Martin subpoenaed. "...Harvey sent investigators to Martin's home with a subpoena. They demanded to know his sources for questioning Harvey's ability to investigate claims that the Governor's Office was interfering in parole decisions. Lawmakers have a constitutional privilege against such interrogation."
The state had been under federal pressure since the late 1990s, due to racial profiling hoaxes engineered by black race hustlers (including, prominently, the Rev. Reginald Jackson's Black Ministers Council of New Jersey) and their media allies, and due to the undiplomatic (but true) remarks regarding minorities and crime made by white former State Police Supt. Carl Williams in 1999, whereupon liberal GOP Gov. Christie Whitman fired Williams. Hiring a minority superintendent, any minority superintendent, was politically expedient for McGreevey. Note, however, that Santiago was not forced out due to the red flags, most of which were reportedly covered up by McGreevey's cronies -- most notably AG David Samson and Peter Harvey, first when Harvey was first assistant AG, and then after he had succeeded Samson as acting AG -- but on a fluke. On September 19, 2002, Supt. Santiago wrote a memo "confiscating originals and all copies" of the State Police background investigation of him and his top aides, a demand which, according to Edward M. Neafsey, director of the state Office of Government Integrity (don't laugh!), violated federal and state laws, as well as "the [state] Department of Law and Public Safety's Code of Ethics and the Rules and Regulations of the New Jersey State Police."
Only after Santiago's ouster, did most of the charges against him come to light. Retired State Police Maj. Frank Simonetta, who had been commanding officer of the state police investigations section charged, in an interview with Gannett reporter Sandy McClure published on April 12, 2003, that beginning in January, 2002, he had tried to hand the State Police reports to AG David Samson and Peter Harvey. "When I told them what I had, they didn't want to see the reports. The attorney general turned to Harvey and said, 'Pete, you handle it.' And he (Samson) walked out of the room. And Mr. Harvey -- it was like I had a hot brick in my hands -- did not want to see it, would not even look at it."
Gannett's Sandy McClure reported that each of the three state investigators, troopers David Kushnir, Thomas Primo, and Dennis Vecchiarelli (all of whom worked under Maj. Simonetta), who turned up the allegations from confidential informants, "separately alleged that Harvey wanted one of the investigators to delete a written suggestion that their report be shared with the Senate Judiciary Committee." And indeed, Harvey kept the reports from ever being passed on to the committee. Echoing by then Acting AG Harvey, Edward M. Neafsey later called the charges against Santiago "unsubstantiated," and Gov. McGreevey called them "baseless."
But consider the context. Harvey's deputy, Deputy Director of Criminal Justice Vaughn McKoy, had told the investigators that the AG would not proceed unless the informants revealed their identities to the AG's office, signed affidavits, and permitted themselves to be polygraphed, "unprecedented" requirements, according to State Police sources. Note, too, that the charges had reportedly also been independently corroborated. Hence, the terms "unsubstantiated" and "baseless" are nonsense on stilts. All charges are unsubstantiated and baseless, if authorities refuse to investigate them. The informants all refused to accept the AG's terms (terms which Gov. McGreevey supported), with one of them reportedly saying he feared for his life. Consider as well, that Santiago had worked for the AG's office. Thus, Santiago would not only have had (illegal) access to any State Police reports that had been written in compliance with the AG's demand to reveal the informants' names, but he also had connections in the AG's office.
Critics have charged that the Office of Government Integrity is a dumping ground for McGreevey lackeys, though it is hard to see how that would distinguish it from any other state agency.
Neither journalism nor law enforcement can function without the use of confidential sources. To have to identify all one's sources would result in most of them drying up, since sources that are exposed tend to get fired from their jobs, blacklisted from their professions, and/or turn up dead. Director Santiago was not supposed to know the names of the three troopers investigating him, yet in a lawsuit the troopers filed, they asserted that not only did Santiago know their identities, but that he had retaliated against them. Santiago charged "that his downfall was engineered by rogue troopers who fiercely resisted changes he brought to the organization."
In fact, no foreign national could qualify for the job, because no foreigner could get the security clearance required to read sensitive federal documents or attend FBI briefings. Since the New Jersey media had already pointed this out, Levinsohn tiptoed around such issues in his official letters. And Cipel had no security background, to begin with. Meanwhile, big names in security had applied for the job, including former FBI director Louis Freeh, who had offered to do it for free. McGreevey later lied about the contents of the Levinsohn letter. The Gannett chain had to file a Freedom of Information Act request, in order to see the letter, which had mysteriously disappeared from state files, before a copy surfaced -- at Paul Levinsohn's home.
In March, 2002, McGreevey switched Cipel to a no-show job as "special counsel," also at $110,000 per annum. After continued media questions about Cipel's "qualifications," on the advice of PR flack Howard Rubenstein, McGreevey forced Cipel to resign on August 13, 2002. (By the way, Howard Rubenstein was then Charles Kushner's PR flack. Wouldn't you like to get Rubenstein to testify under oath about what he knows about the McGreevey Administration?) And yet, before the year was over, McGreevey had arranged for jobs for Cipel at a public relations firm (MWW Group), and when Cipel wouldn't show up for work on time there, at a lobbying firm (State Street Partners). That made four well-paying jobs requiring minimal labor for a non-citizen with shaky immigration status in barely nine months. Cipel denies that he was McGreevey's lover, or that he is homosexual, not that he thinks there's anything wrong with that, and insists that he was a victim of the governor's sexual harassment. We should all be so victimized.
What was it about this alleged poet that made him so darned valuable? By the way, State Street Partners fired Cipel in May, 2003, for absenteeism.
Taffet and Levinsohn were both forced to resign. McGreevey critics such as Assemblyman John Rooney (R-Emerson), suggested that chief counsel to Gov. McGreevey, Paul Josephson (who changes jobs more often than David Wells: He had been McGreevey's campaign attorney, then Levinsohn's top aide, and then Levinsohn's successor as chief counsel), was potentially implicated in both Billboardgate and the Roger Chugh case (see below). As McGreevey campaign attorney, Josephson had allegedly turned a blind eye to Chugh's allegedly illegal conduct. (I know -- "allegedly, allegedly." Since none of these cases have legally been resolved, and most probably never will be, I have to say "allegedly." With apologies to Robert Towne, "Forget it, Jake, it's Jersey.")
During Josephson's momentary post-inaugural job in 2002 as liaison to public (highway, turnpike, etc.) authorities, he had reportedly intervened on behalf of Taffet and Levinsohn's business, by blocking attempts by their competitor, Lewis Katz, to get billboard contracts. The various charges and insinuations have so far rolled off Josephson's back, as he has jumped sideways from one high-level job to another, each time things have gotten hot for him. He had to resign his position as chief counsel after less than two months, but was immediately made assistant attorney general and director of the Division of Law in the Department of Law and Public Safety, on March 11, 2003. Josephson bossed 550 civil attorneys while working under acting AG Peter Harvey. Josephson left that job on January 28, to become a partner at the powerful Princeton law firm, Hill Wallack. That's six jobs in about two-and-a-half years, but it's nothing compared to Golan Cipel. Meanwhile, in a civil suit filed on June 16, the SEC charged Gary Taffet with insider trading for actions he had allegedly undertaken before he had worked for McGreevey.
During McGreevey's 2001 campaign, Asian Indian businessmen in Middlesex County have charged, his fundraiser Rajesh "Roger" Chugh (who later worked in the secretary of state's office) engaged in illegal fundraising tactics, including "pressur[ing] them for contributions in the years leading up to the 2001 gubernatorial election, using grandiose promises of gubernatorial appointments, easy negotiation of Woodbridge [whose mayor McGreevey was, while simultaneously serving as a state senator, before being elected governor] oversight boards or threats of retribution."
* * *
In perhaps the unkindest cut of all, McGreevey has refused to vacate the office from which he resigned. In a ruthless bid to maintain Democrat control over the governorship, McGreevey insists that he will not leave office until November 15. Were he to leave before Election Day (November 2), a special election would be held for the people of New Jersey to choose a successor. By sabotaging voters' chance to replace him, McGreevey guarantees that the governorship will remain in Democrat hands until 2006, in the person of Senate President Richard J. Codey, who under state law, needn't give up his day job as senate president while governor. A number of press observers believe that McGreevey is seeking to pave the way for popular, liberal Democrat Sen. Jon Corzine, to run for governor in 2005.
McGreevey could potentially be charged in the Cipel and D'Amiano affairs, and subpoenaed in countless other criminal cases. But don't bet the split-level on it.
The truth is, the McGreevey administration had long been on life support. But McGreevey should have been forced from office already in 2002 over Cipel, even if he had not been embroiled in a single other scandal. It's one thing to have a midlife crisis, or to believe in the privileges of rank, or to be a run-of-the-mill philanderer; it's another thing to misappropriate taxpayer money by putting one's mistress (mastress?) on the government payroll, and a whole other ballgame to breach government security, just to pay off one's lover.
For some perspective, consider the less dramatic case of Wayne Hays.
Back in 1976, 64-year-old, Ohio Democrat Congressman Wayne Hays, the chairman of the powerful House Administration Committee, was known as "the meanest man in Congress." But then his private squeeze publicly sucker-punched him. Blonde, voluptuous, 26-year-old Elizabeth Ray, who was on Hays' payroll as a $14,000-per-year clerk, in spite of not being able to type, file, or even answer the telephone, came out to the Washington Post, and let the world know what kind of dictation she had really been taking from Hays. Ray then lent her name to a salacious, ghostwritten, roman a clef that appeared three months after the scandal broke, The Washington Fringe Benefit. Hays was forced to resign from the House. It never occurred to him, in those pre-Oprah times, to announce that he was a victim of certain impulses, that he was a sexually postmodern American, or to debate the meaning of the verb "to be." Those were the good, old days.
Conversely today, people who have been caught, or whose leaders have been caught in dubious friendships, often scream, "Guilt by association!" as if this were a magic incantation that would put critics on the defensive. But there is nothing wrong morally with the concept of guilt by association (which is not the same as collective guilt and punishment), which is legal grounds for putting a parolee back in jail (for "merely" associating with known felons), and with the exception perhaps of the Genovese crime family and the State of New Jersey, has customarily been grounds for firing someone from most jobs or refusing to hire him in the first place. This is especially true of jobs involving the public trust. If a person typically associates with individuals who are shady on their best days, we have good reason to believe that that person is himself an active criminal, about to become a criminal, or at the very least a person of questionable character. To continue to trust or defend that person -- regardless of whether he is under criminal indictment -- would be reckless, and reflect poorly on one's own character.
To give you a notion of the degree to which corruption is accepted and even celebrated in the Garden State, on August 27, when still-Gov. McGreevey came out of seclusion, he enjoyed the warm embrace of the Rev. Reginald Jackson, head of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, and his congregation at the St. Matthew AME (African Methodist Episcopalian) Church, in Orange. That day, Cong. Donald Payne (10th Dist.), a veteran Democrat hack, insisted to WCBS-TV News reporter Magee Hickey, "The citizens of New Jersey are very comfortable with Governor McGreevey remaining in office until November 15."
I heard on Imus that McGreevy is going to run again, this time for Mayor of Hersey PA.
I'm sure Dick Winters will appreciate that. /sarc
If so, McGreevy picks up the title of "Most Corrupt Governor" from ex-Illinois Gov. George Ryan, currently under indictment for only a fraction of what he probably did. Never underestimate IL when looking for political corruption...
Do you think this scandal involving a Dim-o-rat Guv will help The President in NJ on November 2? Whaddya think?
Illinois is a highly regarded state, among the ranks of the plitical criminal class.
With NJ, it's hard to say. People there don't always react with the normal sense of indignation that should follow a scandal of such magnitude. Remember, McGreevey's poll numbers went UP four points asfter his little exercise in dinner theater.
He lives outside Hershey on a farm somewhere I believe.
I think the ad here that ought to be used...isn't for NJ...but the nation. Simply put up a 30-second ad about incompetence and corruption, and label the guy a democrat. Let the entire party pay for what the NJ governor is doing. I don't see a problem in doing, and it lets NJ know that we can look straight at their situation and laugh...even if they don't want to do anything about this.
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