Senate Panel Rubber-Stamps Jeff Chiesa as New A.G. [AUDIO]
All 12 members of the State Senate Judiciary Committee checked partisanship at the door yesterday as they considered the nomination of Governor Chris Christie's chief counsel, Jeff Chiesa to be the state's next Attorney General. The nomination was unanimously approved without a single panel member playing politics. The hearing was so non-contentious that at one point GOP State Senator Kevin O'Toole said to Chiesa, "It's amazing! Nobody hates you." It is expected the full Upper House will approve Chiesa's nomination this Monday.
The toughest question the former federal prosecutor faced was about how his office would interact with the Governor's office, where he'll be leaving the position of chief counsel. Chiesa assured the committee the two offices would remain independent of one another and that no criminal matters would be discussed with the Governor's office.
Cheisa says his time as Christie's chief counsel has given him a special appreciation for the role of Attorney General and an understanding of just how important the job is.
In 2002, Cheisa became a federal prosecutor under then-U.S. Attorney Christie. He spent almost seven years representing the United States in federal criminal matters. He explains, "During this time, I worked on a broad spectrum of criminal cases including violent crimes, some involving drugs and guns, economic crimes, national security matters and public corruption."
"In my view, a critical mission of any A.G. is to protect the public welfare and to ensure that our communities, our families and our neighbors remain safe," explains Chiesa. "We cannot tolerate our cities being infiltrated by gangs and infested with drug dealers, creating an environment in which hope is replaced by despair."
Chiesa says, if confirmed his vision for the A.G.'s Office would be to position it to accomplish several goals including: promoting the public's safety; vigorously representing the state's core interests; maintaining the public's confidence in the integrity of our government; preparing for and responding to natural disasters; and protecting the vulnerable.
"Governor Christie was known as a corruption buster in his service as U.S. Attorney, so it's no surprise he would appoint someone like Jeff who shares his dedication and work ethic to take on that challenge as our state's Attorney General," says State Senator Kip Bateman, a member of the judiciary committiee. "As Attorney General, I have no doubt in my mind that Jeff Chiesa will be persistent, effective and fair, and he'll do much to make New Jersey a safer place to live."