Jim McGreevey

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Jim McGreevey
McGreevey in 2009
52nd Governor of New Jersey
In office
January 15, 2002 – November 15, 2004
Preceded byRichard Codey (acting)
Succeeded byRichard Codey
19th Mayor of Woodbridge Township
In office
January 1, 1992 – January 15, 2002
Preceded byJoseph DeMarino
Succeeded byFrank Pelzman
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 19th district
In office
January 11, 1994 – January 13, 1998
Preceded byRandy Corman
Succeeded byJoe Vitale
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 19th district
In office
January 9, 1990 – January 14, 1992
Serving with George Otlowski
Preceded byAlan Karcher
Succeeded byStephen A. Mikulak
Ernest L. Oros
Personal details
James Edward McGreevey

(1957-08-06) August 6, 1957 (age 66)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Kari Schutz
(m. 1991; div. 1997)

(m. 2000; div. 2008)
Domestic partnerMark O'Donnell (Separated)
EducationCatholic University
Columbia University (BA)
Georgetown University (JD)
Harvard University (MEd)
General Theological Seminary (MDiv)

James Edward McGreevey (born August 6, 1957) is an American politician who served as the 52nd governor of New Jersey from 2002 until his resignation in 2004.

McGreevey served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1990 to 1992, as the 19th mayor of Woodbridge Township from 1991 to 2002, and in the New Jersey Senate from 1994 to 1998. He was the Democratic nominee for Governor of New Jersey in 1997, but was narrowly defeated by Republican incumbent Christine Todd Whitman. He ran for governor again in 2001 and was elected by a large margin.

During his gubernatorial tenure, McGreevey—who was then married to Dina Matos—appointed Israeli national Golan Cipel as Counselor to the Governor, advising on homeland security.[1] On August 12, 2004, following threats of a sexual harassment lawsuit from Cipel, McGreevey publicly acknowledged his homosexuality and stated that he had engaged in an extramarital relationship; he also announced that he would resign the governorship effective November 15, 2004.

In 2006, following his departure from public office, McGreevey published a memoir entitled The Confession. He later pursued ordination in the Episcopal Church and obtained a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from General Theological Seminary in New York City; however, the Episcopal Church declined to ordain him. In July 2013, McGreevey was appointed head of Jersey City's Employment & Training Program (JCETP). He served in that capacity until his 2019 termination. McGreevey serves as Executive Director of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation.

Early life and education[edit]

McGreevey was born in Jersey City, the son of Veronica, a nurse, and Jack McGreevey, a Marine drill instructor[2] who served in World War II and the Korean War.[3] His family was Irish Catholic,[4] and he 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.[7] He earned a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1981 and a master's degree in education from Harvard University in 1982.[8][9] He also attended a summer diploma program in law at the London School of Economics.[10]


Prior to entering politics, McGreevey was an assistant prosecutor and executive director of the state Parole Board.[11] McGreevey has taught ethics, law and leadership at Kean University in Union, New Jersey.[12]

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.[13][14] 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.[citation needed]

Governorship of New Jersey[edit]

McGreevey 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.[15] McGreevey ran for the governorship again in 2001 and won with 56% of the vote,[16] making him the first majority-elected governor since James Florio.[17] His Republican opponent in that race was Bret Schundler.[18] 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).[19][20]

After being elected to the governorship by a large margin[21] on November 6, 2001, McGreevey inherited a US$5 billion budget deficit.[22] During his term, McGreevey raised the tax on cigarettes[23] and increased the state income tax for the wealthy.[24] Raised as a Roman Catholic[25] but maintaining a pro-choice stance on abortion,[26] he stated as governor that he would not receive Communion at public church services.[27]

Among McGreevey's accomplishments were auto insurance reform,[28] restructuring the Division of Motor Vehicles to the Motor Vehicle Commission, signing the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act into law, implementing a stem cell research plan for New Jersey,[29] heavily lobbying for the state's first domestic partnership law for same-sex couples[30] and signing such a law in early 2004.[31]

Golan Cipel controversy[edit]

McGreevey met Golan Cipel in Israel during a trip there in 2000.[32] Cipel relocated to the United States to work for McGreevey's 2001 gubernatorial campaign as a liaison to the Jewish community.[33]

In 2002, following his election as governor, McGreevey appointed Cipel as Counselor to the Governor at a salary of $110,000.[34] Members of the Legislature questioned the appointment,[35] and it was criticized because Cipel was unqualified for the position.[32][34] In addition, Cipel could not obtain a security approval from the federal government, as he was Israeli and not a U.S. citizen; therefore, the FBI and the Secret Service would not provide him with intelligence.[36]

McGreevey in 2007

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.[37]

McGreevey assisted Cipel in obtaining a townhouse near McGreevey's home. Cipel reportedly stated that he needed to live near the governor because his job involved being on call on a 24-hour basis. "According to the Star-Ledger newspaper, McGreevey even accompanied Cipel on a final walk-through of the townhouse, which the real estate agent said she found odd".[38]

In March 2002, Cipel stepped down from his Homeland Security position and was reassigned to an advisor position regarding government operations. In August 2002, Cipel resigned from the McGreevey administration.[39]

Cipel later threatened to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against McGreevey. This threat led to McGreevey's August 2004 resignation from office.[33]

Other controversies[edit]

David D'Amiano, a key McGreevey fund-raiser, was ultimately sentenced to two years in prison for extorting $40,000 from a farmer, Mark Halper, a Middlesex County landowner cooperating with investigators. In the 47-page indictment, there are repeated references to the involvement of "State Official 1," later revealed to be McGreevey. In a conversation with Halper, McGreevey used the word "Machiavelli," the code allegedly arranged by D'Amiano intended to assure the farmer that his $40,000 campaign contribution would get him preferential treatment in a dispute over his land.[40]


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,[33] McGreevey held a press conference. At the press conference, he said: "At a point in every person's life, one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world, not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is. And so my truth is that I am a gay American".[41][42] He also said that he had "engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man" (whom his aides immediately named as Cipel),[43] and that he would resign effective November 15, 2004.[36] 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.[44] McGreevey's announcement made him the first openly gay state governor in United States history.[36] 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."[45] For his part, Cipel later asserted that he was heterosexual[46][47] and denied having had an affair with McGreevey;[48][49][50][46][47] Cipel has contended that McGreevey subjected him to sexual harassment[51][33] and sexual assault[52] and then fired him when his advances were rejected.[53]

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.[54][55] Doing so allowed the Democratic Party to retain control of the governorship for the rest (until January 2006) of the four-year term. It avoided the prospect of a special election in tandem with the presidential election, which could have resulted in a Republican victory and helped George W. Bush capture New Jersey's electoral votes.[21][56] Bush did not win New Jersey's electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election, but captured 46 percent of the statewide vote, compared to 40 percent 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 J. Mayer, 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] In the wake of McGreevey's resignation, and in consideration of other past New Jersey governors who had left office before the end of their terms, such as Christie Todd Whitman, who had resigned in 2001 when President George W. Bush appointed her to head the EPA, and Governor A. Harry Moore, who resigned in 1935 to serve in the U.S. Senate,[66][67] New Jersey passed an amendment to the state constitution in 2005 that created the post of Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey, effective January 17, 2006.[68] The first election for lieutenant governor was held in 2009.[69]

Post-gubernatorial activities[edit]


In September 2006, McGreevey published a memoir, written with assistance from David France as ghostwriter.[70] The memoir was titled The Confession.[71] McGreevey appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show on September 19, 2006, to discuss and promote the book. It was the start of a two-month promotion of his memoir.[72]

In The Confession, McGreevey describes 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."[73][74] McGreevey also included descriptions of his alleged affair with Golan Cipel.[47] In response, Cipel continued to deny that an affair between the two men occurred.[49][47]

Divinity studies and community-building[edit]

Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi and McGreevey at the HBO screening of Fall to Grace in March 2013

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.[75] At St. Bartholomew's, McGreevey was received into the Episcopal Church on Sunday, April 29, 2007. He was accepted to General Theological Seminary, from which he received the degree of Master of Divinity,[76] a prerequisite to becoming an Episcopal priest.[77][78] In 2009, McGreevey told The New York Times that he volunteered for Exodus Ministries, where he performed service to former prisoners seeking rehabilitation at the Church of Living Hope in Harlem, New York.[79] On November 16, 2009, WCBS-TV reported that McGreevey was continuing his training at All Saints Episcopal Church in Hoboken. An April 2011 report indicated that McGreevey's bid for ordination had been rejected.[76] McGreevey then worked at Integrity House at the Hudson County Correctional Facility with women inmates with a history of drug use.[80]

McGreevey's life after politics, his pursuit of the priesthood, and his ministry to prison inmates are covered in a 2013 HBO documentary film, Fall to Grace, directed by Alexandra Pelosi.[81][82]

After years as an Episcopalian, McGreevey rejoined the Catholic Church; as of 2023, he regularly attended Mass at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Jersey City.[83]

Jersey City Employment & Training Program[edit]

In July 2013, McGreevey was appointed executive director of Jersey City's Employment & Training Program (JCETP).[84][85][86] The program, which provides re-entry coaching for those released from prison, along with other services, such as job opportunities and training, and substance abuse rehabilitation[87][88][89] is based at The Hub in the city's Jackson Hill neighborhood.[90][91] Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop stated that McGreevey was "a valuable asset"[92] to have in this position.[92]

Among those at the September 2014 opening of the facility called Martin's Place[93] (located on the major street of Martin Luther King Drive) were Brendan Byrne, Tom Kean, Steve Fulop, Chris Christie, Robert Menendez, Nancy Pelosi and Cornell William Brooks.[94][95] The prisoner re-entry program, funded by the New Jersey Parole Board with a $4.2 million grant, is located in Sacred Heart Church, also in the neighborhood.[96]

In January 2019, the board of the JCETP voted to terminate McGreevey's employment.[97] A forensic audit suggested that funds had been inappropriately re-directed to another program, NJ ReEntry. McGreevey claimed that the move was political and asserted that eight independent audits found no wrongdoing.[98][99]

During the COVID-19 pandemic in New Jersey, McGreevey sought to place early-release prisoners, many of whom were homeless, in makeshift shelters.[100]

New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC)[edit]

McGreevey serves as Executive Director and Chairman of the Board of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC).[101]

Potential return to politics[edit]

In October 2015, McGreevey moved from Plainfield to Jersey City, sparking rumors that he might run for mayor.[102] In 2023, with mayor Steven Fulop retiring to run for governor, McGreevey's name was floated among potential candidates to succeed him, with the Union City mayor and State Senator Brian P. Stack endorsing his potential bid.[83][103][104] He filed to run for election on October 31, 2023.[105]

Personal life[edit]

McGreevey has a daughter from his first marriage (1991–1997) to Canadian Karen Joan Schutz and another daughter from his second marriage to Portuguese-born Dina Matos.[106] When he resigned from office in 2004, McGreevey asserted that he had engaged in an adulterous affair with another man; he later stated that he had had an affair with Golan Cipel.[47] Cipel has denied that an affair between the two men occurred.[49][47]

Matos and McGreevey separated after he revealed that he is gay, and in late 2005 McGreevey and Australian-American executive Mark O'Donnell began a relationship.[107] The two lived in Plainfield, New Jersey.[4][108][109] On March 14, 2007, the Associated Press reported that McGreevey was seeking custody of his younger daughter and filing for child support. Matos demanded $600,000 plus alimony.[110] On August 8, the divorce was granted. McGreevey received joint custody and was directed to pay child support.[111] Matos was denied alimony. 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 father her child.[112]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of New Jersey
1997, 2001
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former Governor Order of precedence of the United States Succeeded byas Former Governor