New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey unexpectedly announced his resignation today, disclosing publicly that he is a homosexual and had an extramarital affair with another man.
With his wife standing by his side, McGreevey, a Democrat who has been dogged by several fund-raising scandals, said he has long struggled with his identity. He said he was revealing his sexual orientation and the homosexual affair to counter the vulnerability he faced from "rumors, false allegations and threats of disclosure."
McGreevey said the resignation would take effect Nov. 15. His term was due to expire in January 2006.
As word leaked this afternoon that the 47-year-old governor planned to announce his resignation at a Trenton, N.J., news conference, it was widely assumed that he was succumbing to pressure from the financial scandals swirling around him. But McGreevey made no mention of those troubles in his surprising announcement.
With his second wife, Dina Matos McGreevey, looking on, the former mayor and state legislator referred to his first marriage to a Canadian woman and to his two daughters, including a toddler born in December 2001. But he said that at some point, "one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul" and come to grips with the "unique truth" there.
"My truth is that I am a gay American," McGreevey said.
He acknowledged having caused "pain and suffering and anguish" to his family, adding that he felt compelled to confess his involvement in an affair.
"I am also here today because shamefully, I engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony," McGreevey said. "It was wrong, it was foolish, it was inexcusable."
Although his homosexuality by itself "makes little difference" to his performance as governor, McGreevey said, "given the circumstances surrounding the affair and its likely impact upon my family and my ability to govern, I have decided the right course of action is to resign."
McGreevey did not disclose any details of the affair or explain what he meant by rumors and false allegations.
In recent weeks, the governor, who took office in January 2002, has been plagued by allegations of unethical financial activities by associates, Washington Post staff writer Michael Powell reported.
One of his prominent fundraisers, a trash hauler, was recently indicted on charges of extorting bribes and campaign contributions from a Middlesex County farmer. Then, another top political donor, a wealthy developer, was charged with trying to derail a federal investigation of his finances by hiring prostitutes to seduce witnesses, including his brother-in-law.
In addition, the state commerce secretary resigned after it was revealed that he funneled contracts to the sister of his chief of staff. And McGreevey's former chief of staff is under investigation for getting contracts to put up billboards on public land while he was running the governor's campaign.
Although McGreevey was mentioned 83 times in the federal indictment of David D'Amiano, the trash-hauling fundraiser, the governor was not named as a co-conspirator, and his aides have said his involvement was innocent. Nor was McGreevey implicated in the indictment of the developer, Charles Kushner.
McGreevey and his aides have portrayed the investigations as a vendetta by federal prosecutor Christopher J. Christie, who was appointed by President Bush and is said to have gubernatorial ambitions.