New Jersey’s New A.G. Is A Man On A Mission [AUDIO]
As the newest New Jersey Attorney General, Jeff Chiesa is now the state's top law enforcement official. In a wide-ranging one-on-one interview in his Trenton office, Chiesa comes across as friendly and likeable.
He's quick to smile and even laugh, but when the talk turns to his A.G. responsibilities it is quickly evident that he's a serious man.
Cheisa grew up with his public school teacher mom and two sisters in Bound Brook. His father passed away when he was 8-years-old. He met his wife Virginia at Catholic University Law School after getting his undergraduate degree from Notre Dame. They've been married for 19 years. Chiesa lamented the fact that a work obligation was keeping him from last night's Notre Dame-Seton Hall game. He says, "I live and die with Notre Dame."
The Chiesa's have a 13-year-old son, Al and a 10-year-old daughter, Hannah. I didn't have the opportunity to count the number of family pictures in Chiesa's office so, let's just say there's a lot. Cheisa says, "They remain thoroughly unimpressed with my new title……When I go home at night they remind me that I have just one title and it's Dad."
He never expected to be asked by his long time friend and confidant, Governor Chris Christie to be Attorney General. In fact, Chiesa says he never expected anything, but is happy and humbled to be in the new position.
Chiesa's wife is also a lawyer. He says when he was asked to be Attorney General, "One of the things that I said to the Governor was that I wanted to make sure that I talked to Jenny about it and I was incredibly thankful and honored to get the appointment. She was incredibly supportive and the one thing I said to him (Christie) after I got the job was, 'Please make sure you thank her because she's the reason I'm going to be able to do this.'"
Christie and Chiesa have worked together for some time. Chiesa was a lawyer under Christie at the U.S. Attorney's Office and was the head of his gubernatorial transition team before spending two years as the Governor's chief counsel. Chiesa says, "In one of the offices we communicated by banging on the walls at one point in our careers in private practice…….He's given me opportunities that lawyers dream about."
The U.S. Attorney's Office under Christie was famous for the amount of corrupt politicians it was able to successfully prosecute. Chiesa was a line prosecutor in that office. He says, "I think those cases are important to reassure the public that there's honesty in their government………….The overwhelming number of public servants are in it for the right reasons and are not looking to benefit themselves, but as soon as someone turns their public office into some way to enrich themselves and you find out about, you have to do something about it otherwise the integrity in the system collapses and the public confidence collapses."
Chiesa says his background at the U.S. Attorney's Office has provided him with a great appreciation for how important public corruption cases are. He vows to continue to prosecute such cases as Attorney General when they are presented.
There are many other priorities as well. He names gun trafficking, human trafficking, child pornography, drug cases, civil rights, gaming enforcement, fraudulent businesses and more. Chiesa says, "The mission of this office is very different."