Jim McGreevey

Jim McGreevey
Jim McGreevey
McGreevey in 2009, volunteering for Exodus Transitional Community in Harlem, New York City
52nd Governor of New Jersey
In office
January 15, 2002 – November 15, 2004
Preceded by Richard Codey (acting)
Succeeded by Richard Codey
Personal details
Born James Edward McGreevey
August 6, 1957 (1957-08-06) (age 54)
Jersey City, New Jersey
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) 1. Kari Schutz
(1991–1997) divorced
2. Dina Matos
(2000–2008) divorced
Alma mater Harvard University
Profession Politician, seminarian
Religion Episcopalian

James Edward "Jim" McGreevey (born August 6, 1957) is an American Democratic politician. He served as the 52nd Governor of New Jersey from January 15, 2002, until he resigned from office at 11:59 pm on November 15, 2004. His term was set to expire on January 17, 2006. On the afternoon of August 12, 2004, McGreevey coupled the announcement of his decision to resign with a public declaration of his homosexuality and an admission to having had an extramarital affair with a man, Golan Cipel, an Israeli citizen and veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces, whom McGreevey appointed New Jersey homeland security adviser. Cipel, who had joined the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1994 as Chief Information Officer at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, subsequently left the United States and returned to Israel after their affair was revealed. McGreevey was the first and, to date, the only openly gay state governor in United States history.[1]

Since leaving the governorship, McGreevey has attended the General Theological Seminary in New York City to obtain his Master of Divinity degree, a requirement to becoming an Episcopal priest.[2] He volunteers service through Exodus Transitional Community to former prisoners seeking rehabilitation at the Church of Living Hope in Harlem, New York.[3]


Early life and education

James McGreevey was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, to Irish Catholic parents[4] and grew up in nearby Carteret. There he attended St. Joseph Elementary School, and St. Joseph High School in Metuchen.[5] He attended The Catholic University of America[6] before graduating from Columbia University in 1978. He earned a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1981 and a master's degree in education from Harvard University in 1982.[7][8] He also attended a diploma program in law at the London School of Economics.[9]

Personal life

McGreevey has a daughter, Morag, from his first marriage (1991–1997) to Canadian Karen Joan Schutz.[10] He has another daughter, Jacqueline, from his second marriage to Portuguese-born Dina Matos McGreevey.

Dina Matos and McGreevey separated after he came out, and in late 2005 McGreevey and Australian-American executive Mark O'Donnell began a relationship.[11] The two live in Plainfield, New Jersey.[4][12][13] McGreevey has taught ethics, law and leadership at Kean University in Union, New Jersey.[14][15]

In her memoirs, Matos wrote that she would never have married McGreevey if she had known he was gay, nor would she have chosen to have a gay man to father her child.[16] On March 17, 2008, Theodore Pedersen, a former aide to McGreevey, claimed that from 1999 to 2001 he participated in numerous threesomes with McGreevey and Matos, a statement later affirmed by McGreevey.[16][17] In a statement to ABC News, Matos denied that a threesome ever took place.[18]

Divorce from Dina Matos

On March 14, 2007, the Associated Press reported that McGreevey was seeking custody of Jacqueline and filing for child support. Matos demanded $600,000 plus alimony.[19] The divorce trial started on May 6, 2008.[20] On August 8, the divorce was granted. McGreevey received joint custody and pays child support.[21] They will also be using a parenting coordinator.[22] Matos was denied alimony.

Political career

McGreevey was a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, representing the 19th Legislative District from 1990 to 1992, when he became Mayor of Woodbridge Township, New Jersey.[23][24] He was re-elected mayor in 1995 and 1999. He was elected to the New Jersey Senate in 1993, simultaneously serving as mayor during the four-year Senate term. He first ran for governor in 1997, but was defeated in a close race (47% to 46%) by the incumbent Republican Christine Todd Whitman. Libertarian candidate Murray Sabrin received slightly over 5% of the vote.[25] McGreevey ran for the governorship again in 2001 and won with 56% of the vote,[26] making him the first majority-elected governor since James Florio.[27] His Republican opponent in that race was Bret Schundler.[28] Other candidates in the race included William E. Schluter (Independent), Jerry Coleman (Green), Mark Edgerton (Libertarian), Michael Koontz (Conservative), Costantino Rozzo (Socialist) and Kari Sachs (Socialist Workers).[29][30]

Governorship of New Jersey

After being elected to the governorship on his second try (on November 6, 2001), McGreevey inherited a US$5 billion budget deficit.[31] During his term, McGreevey raised the tax on cigarettes[32] and increased the state income tax for the wealthy.[33] Raised as a Roman Catholic[34] but maintaining a pro-choice stance on abortion,[35] he stated as governor that he would not receive Communion at public church services.[36]

Among McGreevey's accomplishments were implementing a stem cell research plan for New Jersey,[37] heavily lobbying for the state's first domestic partnership law for same-sex couples[38] and signing such a law in early 2004.[39]

McGreevey's term was controversial, with questions about the credentials of several of his appointees[40] to pay to play[41][42] and extortion scandals involving backers and key New Jersey Democratic fundraisers.[43][44][45]

Machiavelli controversy

David D'Amiano refused to implicate McGreevey when he admitted in federal court to extorting $40,000 in cash and political donations from Mark Halper, a Middlesex County farmer who was fighting a government plan to condemn his land.[46] D'Amiano encouraged McGreevey to say 'Machiavelli' during a February 2003 conversation with Halper, who recorded conversations in cooperation with the FBI. D'Amiano and Halper previously agreed that McGreevey and Middlesex County officials involved in the scheme should use a word during their meetings to indicate that "they knew a deal was in place" for them to act in his favor. U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie [now Governor] said that D'Amiano's statement in court contradicted McGreevey's public account that it was a coincidental literary allusion as he uses many times.

Golan Cipel controversy

McGreevey was criticized for appointing as homeland security adviser Golan Cipel, because he lacked experience or other qualifications for the position. In addition, Cipel could not gain a security approval from the Federal government, as he was Israeli and not a U.S. citizen. McGreevey had met him in Israel during a trip there in 2000.[47]

McGreevey in 2007.

According to McGreevey in The Confession, The Record was the first newspaper to break the news of a relationship between McGreevey and Cipel. McGreevey brought up Cipel's name six weeks into his administration in a February 14, 2002, interview with The Record's editorial board at its offices saying:

We will not skimp on security. We actually brought on a security adviser from the Israel Defense Forces, probably the best in the world.[48]

The interview prompted news investigation into Cipel's background. On February 21, The Record published a profile of Cipel, calling him a "sailor" and a "poet." The article stated,“Democrats close to the administration say McGreevey and Cipel have struck up a close friendship and frequently travel together”, prompting McGreevey's own mother to confront him about his sexual orientation. Various media organizations sent reporters to Israel to ask questions about Cipel and his background.[citation needed]

In August 2002 at McGreevey's request, Cipel stepped down from his position as homeland security adviser.[49][50]


On the afternoon of August 12, 2004, faced with threats from Cipel's lawyer Allen Lowy that Cipel would file a sexual harassment lawsuit against him in Mercer County Court,[51] McGreevey announced at a press conference, "My truth is that I am a gay American."[52] He also said that he had "engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man" (whom his aides immediately named as Cipel),[53] and that he would resign effective November 15, 2004. New Jersey political circles had speculated about McGreevey's sexual orientation and questions about his relationship with Cipel had been alluded to in the media. McGreevey's announcement made him the first openly gay state governor in United States history. The Star-Ledger won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting for its "coverage of the resignation of New Jersey’s governor after he announced he was gay and confessed to adultery with a male lover."[54]

McGreevey's decision to delay the effective date of his resignation until after September 3, 2004, avoided a special election in November to replace the governor.[55] Doing so allowed the Democratic Party to retain control of the governor's office for at least another year. It avoided the prospect of a Republican incumbent governor's running in tandem with George W. Bush, which could have helped Bush capture New Jersey's electoral votes.[1][56] (Bush did not win New Jersey's electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election, but captured 46% of the statewide vote, compared to 40% in the 2000 race, and did win re-election.)

Almost immediately after McGreevey's announcement, New Jersey Republicans and Democrats alike called upon the governor not to wait until November to resign and instead to do so immediately.[57][58] An editorial in the New York Times read, "Mr. McGreevey's strategy to delay resignation does not serve New Jersey residents well. The state will be led by an embattled governor mired in personal and legal problems for three months."[59]

On September 15, U.S. District Judge Garrett E. Brown, Jr. dismissed Afran v. McGreevey,[60] filed by Green Party lawyers Bruce Afran and Carl Mayers, dismissing their claim that the postponement of McGreevey's resignation had left a vacancy, thereby violating New Jersey residents' voting rights. Brown stated that McGreevey "clearly intends to hold office until November 15, 2004. The requirement of holding a special election does not arise. The rights of registered voters are not being violated."[61][62] Afran re-filed the same suit in Mercer County Superior Court and Judge Linda R. Feinberg heard arguments on October 4, 2004.

Fellow Democrat and New Jersey Senate President Richard Codey took office upon McGreevey's resignation[63] and served the remainder of the term until January 17, 2006.[64] At the time of McGreevey's resignation, the New Jersey State Constitution stipulated that the Senate president retains that position while serving as acting governor.[65]

The Confession

In September 2006, McGreevey published a memoir, written with assistance from ghostwriter David France.[66] The memoir was entitled The Confession.[67] McGreevey appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show on September 19 to discuss and promote the book. It was the start of a two-month promotion of his memoir.[68]

In The Confession, McGreevey described the duality of his life before he came out as gay: "As glorious and meaningful as it would have been to have a loving and sound sexual experience with another man, I knew I'd have to undo my happiness step by step as I began chasing my dream of a public career and the kind of 'acceptable' life that went with it. So, instead, I settled for the detached anonymity of bookstores and rest stops – a compromise, but one that was wholly unfulfilling and morally unsatisfactory."[69]

Post-gubernatorial life

Radio show host David Rothenberg and McGreevey at Occupy Wall Street, November 2011

McGreevey and his partner Mark O'Donnell regularly attended Saint Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in New York, in addition to a local parish in New Jersey.[70] At St. Bartholomew's, McGreevey was received into the Episcopal Church on Sunday, April 29, 2007. He was accepted to General Theological Seminary, where he is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree, a requirement to becoming an Episcopal priest.[2][71]

In 2009, McGreevey told the New York Times that he is a volunteer for Exodus Ministries, where he performs service to former prisoners seeking rehabilitation at the Church of Living Hope in Harlem, New York.[3] On November 16, 2009 WCBS-TV reported McGreevey is continuing his training at All Saints Episcopal Church in Hoboken where Reverend Geoffrey Curtiss is the Pastor. Reports in April 2011 indicate that McGreevey's bid to be ordained was rejected.[72]


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  70. ^ McGreevey Explores Homosexuality in Memoir 1010-WINS, April 28, 2006.
  71. ^ "McGreevey mulling Episcopal priesthood". The Star-Ledger blog. May 2, 2007. http://blog.nj.com/ledgerupdates/2007/05/mcgreevey_mulling_episcopal_pr.html. Retrieved March 10, 2008. 
  72. ^ Heaven can wait: McGreevey priest bid is rejected

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Codey (acting)
Governor of New Jersey
January 15, 2002 – November 15, 2004
Succeeded by
Richard Codey
Party political offices
Preceded by
James Florio
Democratic Nominee for Governor of New Jersey
1997, 2001
Succeeded by
Jon Corzine

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