After Politics, McGreevey Keeps Low Profile

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A year after his life imploded in scandal, former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey (search) lives in self-imposed exile, avoiding the limelight he spent a lifetime chasing.

Separated from the wife he betrayed, McGreevey lives modestly in a one-bedroom apartment. He takes his 3-year-old daughter out for bacon and eggs after Sunday church services, walks to a corner newsstand for coffee and newspapers and stops to chat when passersby recognize him.

It's a long way from the stately governor's mansion and the spotlight that shone on his soul-baring confession. With wife Dina Matos McGreevey at his side, his mother and father standing behind him, McGreevey confessed to an extramarital affair with a man and announced his resignation on Aug. 12, 2004.

"My truth is that I am a gay American," he said in a nationally televised speech.

McGreevey, 47, disappeared from public view after ducking reporters at the few public appearances he made in his final months as governor.

As citizen McGreevey, he has stayed silent and did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Friends say he is coping fine, but is still saddled with the baggage of his messy public downfall over the revelation that he put Golan Cipel (search) — the man identified by McGreevey administration officials as his lover — into a $110,000-a-year homeland security job for which he wasn't qualified.

"I'm sure he's had some tough moments, but he's always managed to pull through," said Rahway Mayor James Kennedy, a longtime friend who still sees the McGreeveys — separately — socially.

"Jim's an incredibly bright guy. I've known him since 1982, and having known him that long, I can tell you he's a resilient guy. He just went through a very traumatic experience. He's handling things very well."

McGreevey's wife bought a three-bedroom house in Springfield where she lives with the couple's daughter, Jacqueline. Neither has filed for divorce. She is a public relations executive with Columbus Hospital Foundation in Newark

McGreevey found work in the law firm of a longtime ally, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, but resigned after conflict-of-interest allegations were raised about his work on the $1.3 billion Xanadu entertainment and retail complex under construction at the Meadowlands, which he had championed as governor.

Now he is looking for options outside the state to avoid similar controversies, said friend George Zoffinger, chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

"No matter what he does in New Jersey, it's always going to come under scrutiny," Zoffinger said.

He has received offers of work from nonprofit organizations involved in public service, according to Lesniak, who said an announcement having to do with McGreevey's future was imminent.

"There will certainly be not-for-profits that would not want to associate themselves with him because they don't want the notoriety," said Julie Goldberg, an executive recruiter. "There are others that may feel that the merits (of his case) were tried more in the public domain than anywhere and that he has a demonstrable track record of making solid relationships and getting things done."

Lesniak insists McGreevey is not seen as damaged goods.

"To the contrary," Lesniak said. "He's a national figure. He is well-known, he has expertise and he's well-regarded, for the most part. And admired. ... People want to talk to him, want to hear from him, just like you do. We get calls for him all the time."

For now, McGreevey spends time with Jacqueline and his other daughter, Morag, from his first marriage, as well as his sister and his parents.

"He's doing well," said McGreevey's father, former U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor Jack McGreevey, who would not elaborate or answer questions about his son's life since leaving office. "He's fine and dandy."

McGreevey, a tireless campaigner when he was in politics, still shows signs of that outgoing demeanor. He's often chatty when he shows up at a corner newsstand to buy coffee and two newspapers, according to one merchant.

"I keep it short," said Bob Patel, who works the counter. "He wants to talk but I'm busy in the morning."