- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — As Richard J. Codey officially became New Jersey’s acting governor, he promised to put a new face on government in a state stunned by his predecessor’s revelation that he had a homosexual extramarital affair.

Gov. James E. McGreevey spent his final day in office out of the public eye Monday, removing his belongings from the governor’s mansion and tending to lingering transition issues three months after his resignation announcement.

New Jersey is one of eight states without an office of lieutenant governor. The 57-year-old Codey, the Democratic state Senate president, will serve out the final 14 months of Mr. McGreevey’s term.

State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, the Republican Party chairman for New Jersey, called the departure a “beginning.”

“This era is now over. We’ve got to look forward to the future,” Mr. Kyrillos said.

Mr. Codey said he will turn his attention to ethics reforms and a projected $4 billion deficit in the next state budget.

A longtime advocate for the mentally ill, Mr. Codey started his first day as governor with a breakfast at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany, joining about 30 adult patients in the cafeteria.

Mr. Codey, whose wife has battled depression, said he could empathize with the patients.

“This is where my heart is. I believe in many instances these people have been forgotten by their family, sad and tragic as that is,” he said.

During a Statehouse ceremony later in the morning, Mr. Codey signed into law the formation of a task force on mental illness.

Mr. McGreevey’s departure ended a three-month interlude that began in August when the governor declared he was a “gay American” and had an affair with another man.

Staff members later identified the man as Golan Cipel, an Israeli national hired by Mr. McGreevey to be his homeland security adviser despite having little experience.

Mr. Cipel, 36, has been in Israel since Mr. McGreevey’s resignation announcement. His lawyer, Allen Lowy, on Monday reiterated his client’s assertion that Mr. McGreevey had sexually harassed Mr. Cipel and there was no consensual sex.

Cipel spokeswoman Dorit Shmueli, contacted in Israel, said Mr. Cipel had no comment.

Mr. McGreevey, a Democrat, reportedly will move into an apartment while his wife and their 2-year-old daughter plan to live in a house in a different town.

The former governor intends to volunteer with a national education foundation, working in New Jersey to help disadvantaged students, according to state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a longtime McGreevey friend.

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