Governor McGreevey’s Secret(s)

If you’re like me, you were surprised when you heard that New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey had suddenly resigned from office yesterday, dramatically doing so by coming out to the residents of his state as a gay man and saying that he could no longer hold office because he had broken the covenant of his marriage by cheating on his wife with another man.

I mean, I don’t want to minimize the pain that must have caused Mrs. McGreevey, or the damage it did to their relationship. But honestly, what does it have to do with his ability to be Governor, other than all being a bit embarrassing? Surely he could have continued to do his job after revealing his sexual preference and getting his personal life in order. It didn’t make much sense.

When he made his announcement, he did so with a speech (you can watch it at the MSNBC link above) that was very moving, too. So you left the whole thing thinking, well, maybe the guy means it — maybe he really does honestly think that someone who would cheat on his wife with another man isn’t fit to be the governor of New Jersey.

Now, though, we’re getting more details that, sadly, make a little more sense in today’s cynical world:

The governor’s announcement was reportedly driven by the threat of a sexual harassment lawsuit by a former aide, Golan Cipel. Mr. McGreevey, who has two children from his two marriages and whose wife stood next to him during his press conference, acknowledged that he had committed adultery with another man. He did not say that the man in question had worked for his administration.

Gay or straight, that kind of relationship raises troubling questions, apart from the issue of whether it was consensual. Mr. Cipel was originally appointed as the governor’s homeland security adviser, a job for which he had no discernable qualifications. If Mr. McGreevey put someone in that critical post because of a personal relationship, that would be an outrage, regardless of his sexual orientation.

If Jim McGreevey is honestly leaving his office because he feels that he can’t uphold its standards, he has my deepest sympathy. But if he is using his sexuality to try and avoid punishment for abusing that office, he has nothing but my utter contempt.



August 13, 2004
10:27 am

My question is, why did he have (and his wife agree) his wife standing by him in public as he announced he had cuckholded her with another man?
Another thing that lends credence to the “it was under duress” argument is that he didn’t just wait to announce this after November 12 so his Lt. Governor would serve out his term, but rather announced it *now* and said he wouldn’t resign until then.
Other than that, I don’t see why he should resign. If he were a religious Republican, then I could see it–there would be a charge of hypocracy. As it is, he would actually do the political world a favor if he just said, “Yeah, I’m gay, and that’s my business, not the public’s. And anything between me and my wife is also not the public’s business.”

Jason Lefkowitz

August 13, 2004
10:36 am

Apparently his timing and decision not to just step down outright were driven by trying to game the NJ Constitution, which would have called for an interim election to fill out the rest of his term (the Lt. Gov. wouldn’t just step up).
By postponing the resignation proper until November 15, he can avoid the election and hand the office over to the President of the State Senate. Only thing I can think of is that there’s a clause in the Constitution calling for elections if the office is going to be open for more than a year (McGreevey’s term was up in 2005).
Quoth the Times:
“The timing of the governor’s coming out was apparently driven by the potential lawsuit, and the timing of his resignation – Nov. 15 – was driven by a desire to avoid an interim election. As it stands, the State Senate president, Richard Codey, another Democrat, will inherit the executive office until the end of 2005. While the mechanics of trying to hold gubernatorial primaries and an election this year would be daunting, Mr. McGreevey’s strategy doesn’t serve New Jersey residents well. The state will be led by an embattled governor mired in personal and legal problems for three months. Then, because of the peculiarities of New Jersey’s Constitution, Mr. Codey will simultaneously lead the Senate and the executive branch – an enormous amount of power for someone whose voter mandate comes only from a State Senate district in Essex County.”


August 13, 2004
11:14 am

Right–the point I was getting at is that if he’d had no other factors than a) personal conviction and b)political calculus driving the timing of his resignation, he’d just wait until Nov 15 to announce his immediate resignation so he wouldn’t be such a wounded, flapping, lame duck. That he announces it now suggests the lawsuit/scandal had more to do with it than conviction.