N.J. Governor Resigns, Admits Gay Affair

Did the wife know or not?

Associated Press Writer

TRENTON, N.J. (AP)—In a stunning declaration, Gov. James E. McGreevey announced his resignation Thursday and acknowledged that he had an extramarital affair with another man. “My truth is that I am a gay American,” he said.

“Shamefully, I engaged in adult consensual affairs with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony,” the married father of two said. “It was wrong, it was foolish, it was inexcusable.”

The Democrat said his resignation would be effective Nov. 15. Senate President Richard J. Codey, a Democrat, will become acting governor and serve out the remainder of McGreevey’s term, which ends in early 2006.

McGreevey, 47, refused to answer questions at a news conference where he was flanked by his wife and parents. He said that “it makes little difference that as governor I am gay,” but added that staying in office and keeping the affair and his sexual orientation secret will leave the governor’s office “vulnerable to rumors, false allegations and threats of disclosure.”

“Given the circumstances surrounding the affair and its likely impact upon my family and my ability to govern, I have decided the right course of action is to resign,” he said.

He did not elaborate on what the circumstances were.

The man involved in the affair, a former government employee, demanded “an exorbitant sum of money to make it go away,” a high-ranking administration official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity. Cabinet members and administration officials learned of that threat Wednesday night, the source said.

Rumors had been circulating for several years that McGreevey was gay, reaching the level of open hints on New Jersey talk radio shows.

In an announcement that at times was introspective, McGreevey referred to the struggles he has experienced with his sexuality since childhood.

“Throughout my life, I have grappled with my own identity, who I am,” he said. “As a young child, I often felt ambivalent about myself, in fact, confused.”

McGreevey spokesman Micah Rasmussen declined to answer any questions about the future of McGreevey’s marriage.

“My heart goes out to Jim McGreevey and his family during this difficult personal time,” Codey said. “Jim McGreevey is a good person and good friend and today’s events sadden me.”

McGreevey rose from suburban mayor to state chief executive by his tenacious pursuit of party politics, maintaining a power base days after he narrowly lost to Republican Christie Whitman in 1997.

McGreevey never truly stopped that campaign until he won in November 2001, beating Republican Bret Schundler by 15 percentage points.

Despite inheriting a $5 billion budget deficit, he steadfastly refused to boost income taxes for most New Jerseyans. He instead raised taxes on millionaires, casinos and cigarettes.

But he has been dogged by several scandals involving fund-raising.

Among those caught up in recent scandals were his first chief of staff and former counsel; a top Democratic fund-raiser and former high school classmate; and real estate developer Charles Kushner, McGreevey’s biggest campaign contributor, who was charged with trying to thwart a federal campaign-finance investigation by luring a grand jury witness - his own brother-in-law - into a compromising position with a prostitute and sending video and photos to the man’s wife.

McGreevey is the second governor to announce his resignation in recent weeks, following the resignation in June of Connecticut GOP Gov. John Rowland amid corruption investigations and threats of impeachment.

Born in Jersey City, McGreevey graduated from Columbia University in 1978. He earned a law degree from Georgetown University in 1981 and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University a year later.

After briefly serving as a county prosecutor, McGreevey became a lobbyist for a pharmaceutical company, then a state government official. While in the Legislature, McGreevey voted for Gov. Jim Florio’s $2.8 billion tax hike that prompted a voter rebellion against Democrats.

2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Posted by Nuttshell on 08/12 at 05:39 PM in Blogging

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