- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Sen. Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat, said yesterday that he will not seek to run for governor in a special election, dashing hopes by some state Democrats that he would help pressure Gov. James E. McGreevey, also a Democrat, to resign earlier than planned.

Mr. Corzine said Mr. McGreevey has assured him that he intends to serve through Nov. 15, in which case a special election would not be held.

The governor gave that resignation date last week, when he announced he is a homosexual and was stepping down because he had had an extramarital affair with a man.

“The governor made clear in our conversation his absolute intent to serve until November 15, 2004. I accept that decision as final,” Mr. Corzine said last night.

“In light of the governor’s position, I want to make clear that my priority is to serve the people of New Jersey in the United States Senate,” he said.

The statement by Mr. Corzine could make it easier for Mr. McGreevey to stay in office until November and allow the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2006, to be filled by state Senate President Richard J. Codey.

Meanwhile yesterday, a major McGreevey donor pleaded guilty to tax violations and charges stemming from a witness-tampering scheme in which he was accused of having a prostitute seduce his own brother-in-law.

Real estate mogul Charles Kushner pleaded guilty in federal court to 18 charges, including retaliating against a federal witness and violating campaign finance laws.

Kushner also pleaded guilty to 16 counts of filing false tax returns through various real estate partnerships. Mr. McGreevey was not implicated in the criminal complaint against Kushner.

He was accused of hiring a prostitute to have sex with his brother-in-law, William Schulder, who was a cooperating witness in an investigation into whether Kushner violated campaign contribution laws and committed tax fraud.

Prosecutors said Kushner ordered the sex act videotaped and a copy of the tape sent to his sister, Mr. Schulder’s wife. Another Kushner associate was approached by a second prostitute but declined the advances, authorities said.

Kushner sponsored the work visa that allowed Golan Cipel, an Israeli who has been identified as Mr. McGreevey’s lover and is accusing the governor of sexual harassment, to come to the United States and gave him a $30,000-a-year job in public relations with one of his companies.

Mr. Cipel maintains he is heterosexual and, through his attorney, has denied Mr. McGreevey’s claim of a consensual affair.

The New York Daily News reported in yesterday’s editions that a college professor from northern New Jersey called the governor’s office Tuesday and said that he had had a relationship with Mr. Cipel.

The governor’s office was having private investigators look into the professor’s claims as part of Mr. McGreevey’s fight against a threatened lawsuit by Mr. Cipel, the paper reported.

“There have been at least three people coming forward, and this person seems the most credible,” a source familiar with the inquiry told the Daily News.

If there is an election, several Republicans have expressed an interest in running, and party leaders are looking to veterans such as former Govs. Christie Whitman or Thomas H. Kean.

Mrs. Whitman did not expressly rule out running in a special election. “I think it really depends on who’s running on the other side,” she said.

Mr. Kean, chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, said he is not interested in running again. “I’m doing this now, not that,” Mr. Kean said after a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee in Washington.

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