TRENTON, N.J. – In a newspaper opinion piece published Sunday, New Jersey's embattled governor says his decision not to leave office immediately because of a sex scandal was "difficult" to make but one he will not change.
Democratic Gov. James E. McGreevey (search) used The New York Times to defend his Nov. 15 resignation date, which has been criticized roundly by both Republicans and members of his own party. McGreevey announced Aug. 12 he is leaving his post because he had an extramarital affair with a man.
"While I see the merits of both sides of the debate, I stand firm with my decision," McGreevey wrote in the Times. "My obligation is to complete the important work already started and to achieve an effective transition of state government."
Meanwhile, an attorney for Golan Cipel (search) — who has been identified as the man with whom McGreevey had an extramarital affair — said the governor's associates told Cipel not to go public about his relationship with the governor or face deportation.
Rachel Yosevitz (search) told The Philadelphia Inquirer for a story in Sunday's editions that associates of the governor visited Cipel at his home.
"They made it clear that the governor would do as he pleased and that if he wanted to have him deported, he would have him deported," Yosevitz told the newspaper.
McGreevey's lawyer, William Lawler, denied the new allegations: "That is not true," he said.
Cipel's attorneys have maintained that he is not gay, and that McGreevey harassed the former homeland security aide. Sources close to McGreevey have said the Israeli demanded millions of dollars to stay quiet.
In his opinion piece, McGreevey identified two specific reasons for remaining in office: to address several policy matters, including plans for a stem cell research center, and to make use of personal privilege set forth in the state Constitution.
"I acknowledge that the constitution would permit a special election to occur if I were to resign at or about the first week of September. ... While the constitution does provide the mechanism for an election, the decision of when to make that resignation effective is a personal one."
Since New Jersey does not have a lieutenant governor, state Sen. President Richard J. Codey (search) will become acting governor and will serve out McGreevey's term, which expires in January 2006.
"An acting governor is more inclined by title to finish the good work that has been started," McGreevey said, adding that holding a special election would not be in the state's best interest.
"There is a great cost to staging an election hastily; even a statewide race could get lost in a national election year and the momentum and the investment made in still developing initiatives would most likely be diminished," he said.