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Inside Politics

Former aide accuses McGreevey of unwanted advances

N.J. GOP to McGreevey: Resign now

New Jersey state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos on Friday calls for Gov. James McGreevey to resign immediately rather than waiting until November.
CNN's Alina Cho on James McGreevey's surprise resignation.

McGreevey: "I am a gay American."
Would you vote for a gay politician?
James E. McGreevey
New Jersey

TRENTON, New Jersey (CNN) -- New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey -- who said he would step down in November after admitting an extramarital gay affair -- faced pressure Friday to resign immediately amid accusations that he abused his office and power to pursue a sexual relationship with the man.

"While employed by one of the most powerful politicians in the country, New Jersey Governor McGreevey, I was the victim of repeated sexual advances by him," said attorney Allen Lowy, reading a statement on behalf of his client Golan Cipel.

McGreevey, who stunned the political world with his announcement Thursday that he is gay, had cheated on his wife and would leave office in three months, has not publicly identified the man he was involved with.

Sources said it was Cipel, an Israeli citizen who served as homeland security adviser to the governor. Cipel was not at the news conference in New York, where his attorney read the statement.

In his statement, Cipel described himself as a "victim," saying he lacked the "strength to disentangle myself from such an oppressive environment and from such a manipulative person."

And Lowy denounced what he called a "smear campaign" against his client by the governor, apparently referencing reports that Cipel or a representative had threatened to sue the governor unless paid millions of dollars.

"Our only goal was to obtain justice," Lowy said, adding that McGreevey's representatives "without provocation offered a sum of money to make my client go away. But money was never the ultimate goal in my client's search for justice."

Lowy said "only time will tell" whether his client would file a lawsuit against McGreevey.

GOP: 'Resign now'

Even before Cipel's accusations, New Jersey Republicans called on McGreevey to "resign now," rejecting his plan to step down in three months.

"Do the right thing .... resign now," said state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, New Jersey GOP chairman.

When he revealed the affair and described himself as a "gay American" at a news conference Thursday afternoon, McGreevey -- a 47-year-old married father of two -- said he would leave office November 15.

Such a move ensures that state Senate President Richard Codey, a fellow Democrat, will serve the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2006. The state has no lieutenant governor.

If McGreevey leaves office before before September 15, state law requires a special gubernatorial election on November 2.

McGreevey dropped the political bombshell as Cipel was prepared to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, two Democratic sources told CNN.

A federal law enforcement source said McGreevey's office contacted the FBI Thursday to say Cipel or his representative threatened to sue unless Cipel was paid millions of dollars.

Lowy disputed that, saying it was "only at the insistence of the governor's representatives that I agreed to meet with them before filing a lawsuit."

Kyrillos predicted "more awkward stories" would be coming out about McGreevey, making it "very difficult for him to carry out the duties of his office."

Kyrillos said the governor -- whose administration had been buffeted by scandal before his personal revelation -- needed to go further to resolve matters.

"His decision is bigger than Jim McGreevey," said Kyrillos. "It transcends one person, one governor. It's a much bigger issue."

But at a separate news conference, Codey defended McGreevey's decision not to leave office until November.

"I think he's capable of governing and giving a smooth transition over to the next governor," Codey said.

Codey deflected questions about any political reasons for the timing of McGreevey's resignation, saying he had no say in the governor's decision. He said both he and McGreevey are following the state constitution.

McGreevey with family

As he announced that he would be leaving office, McGreevey said Thursday that he wanted "to facilitate a responsible transition."

Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, a Republican, called that argument "nonsense."

Kyrillos said state Republicans "are exploring and looking at legal options for the people of New Jersey" if McGreevey does not step down immediately.

McGreevey was away with his family and unavailable for comment.

Bill Palatucci, the New Jersey Republican state committee's finance chairman, had harsh words for McGreevey at Friday's news conference.

"He is the master of deception. He has deceived himself, he has deceived his family, and he has deceived all the voters of New Jersey. He tried to deceive all of us yesterday by trying to make the basis of his resignation ... his sexual orientation," he said. "This is ... about his conduct in office."

He railed against an "ongoing pattern of corruption" among members of McGreevey's administration, and accused McGreevey of exercising "poor judgment."

McGreevey has not been charged with any corruption, but some of his close political allies have been engulfed in scandals.

Last month one of his top fund-raisers, Charles Kushner, was charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and interstate promotion of prostitution. Kushner's attorney called the charges baseless.

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