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Friday, August 13, 2004 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: California Court Voids 4,000 Same Sex Marriages in San...
2004-08-13

NJ Governor Resigns As He Admits To Gay Affair

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In a stunning press conference, James McGreevey yesterday announced his resignation and revealed that he had an affair with another man. McGreevey becomes perhaps the highest ranking politician to ever come out while serving in office. [includes rush transcript]

But that is not the whole story.

McGreevey is expected to be slapped with a sexual harassment suit by a former top aide, Golan Cipel. They met in Israel four years ago. After their meeting, Cipel moved to New Jersey and worked on McGreevey’s campaign for governor. McGreevey helped him find a car, a job and an apartment a tenth of a mile from the Woodbridge townhouse he shared with his wife.

According to the New Jersey Star Ledger, the Israeli national would go on to play a controversial role in McGreevey’s political life over the next two years, first as the newly elected governor’s homeland security adviser and then as a "special counsel" with ill- defined responsibilities and a $110,000 annual salary.

Now Cipel is preparing to sue McGreevey.

A federal law enforcement official said McGreevey’s office had called the FBI yesterday and complained Cipel had requested $5 million to quash the suit, which assistants to the governor saw as extortion.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, a surprise announcement yesterday, New Jersey Governor, James McGreevey resigned, announced he is resigning because is he gay and having an affair, he said.

JAMES MCGREEVEY: At my most reflective, maybe even spiritual level, there were points in my life when I began to question what an acceptable reality really meant for me. Were there realities from which I was running? Which master was I trying to serve? I do not believe that God tortures any person simply for its own sake. I believe that God enables all things to work for the greater good. And this, the 47th year of my life, is arguably too late to have this discussion, but it is here, and it is now. 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, and I am blessed to live in the greatest nation with the tradition of civil liberties, the greatest tradition of civil liberties in the world, and a country, which provides so much to its people. Yet, because of the pain and suffering and anguish that I have caused to my beloved family, my parents, my wife, my friends, I would almost rather have this moment pass, for this is an intensely personal decision and not one typically for the public domain.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Governor James McGreevey of New Jersey. With that announcement, he became perhaps the country’s highest ranking politician to ever come out while serving in office. But that isn’t the whole story. McGreevey is expected to be slapped with a sexual harassment suit by a former top aide, Golan Cipel, whom he had met in Israel four years ago. After their meeting, Cipel moved to New Jersey and worked on McGreevey’s campaign for governor. McGreevey helped him find a car, a job, and an apartment a tenth of a mile from the Woodbridge townhouse he shared with his wife.

JUAN GONZALEZ: According to The Star-Ledger, the Isreali national Cipel played a controversial role in McGreevey’s political life over the next two years. First as the newly elected governors homeland security adviser and then as a special counsel with ill-defined responsibilities and a $110,000 salary. A federal law enforcement official said McGreevey’s office had called the F.B.I. yesterday and complained that Cipel had requested $5 million to quash the suit which assistants to the governor saw as extortion.

AMY GOODMAN: We go to Laura Pople, who is with the New Jersey Gay-Lesbian Coalition. Welcome to Democracy Now!

LAURA POPLE: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us. We have this announcement which on the face of it, on the face of the press conference that Governor McGreevey held yesterday, was a high-level government official announcing he was resigning because he was gay and had had an affair. Though it looks like there is a lot more to this. Your response?

LAURA POPLE: What I heard in the press conference yesterday was a high level elected official making a very personal decision, as he said, making a very personal decision in a very public way. So many gay-lesbian, bisexual-transgendered people struggle with the coming out process. It’s a long process. It can be a long process. It is a deeply personal process. It’s a challenging process, and by virtue of being a public official, he did it, in what had to be under a great deal of public scrutiny and public pressure. Certainly with the spotlight on him in the way that most people don’t. That was a lot of what I heard in the press conference. I also talked to — I also heard him talking about how it has affected his family, his friends, the process, his being a gay American, and that is what I heard him referring to when he was saying that he was resigning from office. I make that distinction from what you said, because I firmly believe and I hope that the Governor would agree that coming out as a gay American does not preclude someone being able to lead a state or a nation in anything. It doesn’t preclude leadership in any way.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, no doubt it was a painful decision for him and he had to go through an enormous emotions in his own sense to get to that spot, but the reality is at the same time that obviously the reason why he resigned was because he would have to dealt with the reality that he had given a very high level job to a person who was basically in a personal relationship with him, and that that was really apparently what triggered the threat of the suit, the allegations that there was an extortion, that this was actually what triggered the resignation more than the fact that he was coming out as gay. Would you agree with that, or not?

LAURA POPLE: I’m not in the governor’s head. I really can’t say. I just know that we now do have a highly ranking official who is an openly gay person.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Laura Pople who is with the New Jersey Gay-Lesbian Coalition.

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