By Ox Drover
I just finished reading the dueling autobiographies of the disgraced former governor of New Jersey, James E. McGreevey, and his ex-wife, Dino Matos McGreevey. His book is called The Confession and hers is called Silent Partner.
Former Governor McGreevey, as you may remember, publicly announced in 2004 that he was resigning as governor of New Jersey because he was being blackmailed by a former homosexual lover. As he pronounced to the world that he was a “gay American,” as he styled himself, his then-wife, Dina Matos McGreevey, stood beside him with a stricken deer-in-the-head-lights look.
Many times we get a book from one or the other of two aggrieved parties that surface in the news, one of whom appears to be pretty shady, but seldom do we get books from both parties—dueling autobiographies.
These two books paint a completely different picture of the relationship of the two, and the political events during McGreevey’s tenure as governor. Of course there is never any way that any outside party, no matter how many details one might get from either or both parties of a marriage, will ever know the inside workings of any marriage, but these two volumes speak to me. Although neither of these parties is without flaws, of the two, Dina Matos McGreevey seems to be the genuinely aggrieved party.
James McGreevey seems to be using his self styled label as a “gay American” not to cover up for having stayed closeted concerning his sexuality, but to cover up for his political high jinks and his pathological lying and deceiving the woman he married admittedly to further his political agenda.
Dina’s family had moved to New Jersey from Portugal when she was a small child and she lived in the large Catholic and politically active Portuguese community. She became an American citizen, worked at various professional jobs and was an active political volunteer. She actually lived at home with her immigrant family, although she was independently working, until she married McGreevey. Dina was captivated by the handsome politician and the bright lights that shone on his up-and-coming career.
McGreevey was divorced with one child. His first wife, Kari, had supposedly moved to Vancouver with their only child because she didn’t like politics. He was a city mayor and wanted to run for governor of New Jersey.
Though Jim kept in somewhat frequent phone contact with his ex-wife, and his daughter, Morag, in Vancouver, and visited them, Jim kept Dina and his ex-wife totally isolated from each other. During about four years of dating and four of marriage, Dina had only one meeting in the U.S. when Kari and her family, Jim’s family and Dina’s family met for a one-week vacation on the Jersey shore. Jim carefully managed that vacation to keep Dina and Kari separate.
By her own admission, Dina loved the limelight of being the governor’s wife, but she also kept her job at a local hospital, even after her daughter was born prematurely with a difficult pregnancy and C-section. In her new role as New Jersey’s first lady, with the continual meetings, parties and other things to engage her, as well as having State Trooper bodyguards to drive her to and from work and social engagements, Dina was kept so busy that the “oddities” of her relationship with Jim somehow slipped under the radar. They never co-mingled finances, she said. He kept her from knowing his daily schedule; in fact, he blocked her access to it by direct orders to his assistant. When Dina questioned him about any of this, he would stonewall her or simply not answer.
After about two-and-a-half years living in the governor’s mansion in New Jersey, Dina knew Jim was stressed and distant, on edge and cranky, but didn’t know exactly why. After Jim hinting for some time that his ethically troubled administration had caused him to think about not running for re-election, he sat her down to talk to her. Dina was completely dumbfounded when he said he was going to resign from office effective almost immediately. Jim explained to her he was being blackmailed by a former campaign supporter and one of the troubled political appointments he had made, but she was totally unprepared for the rest of the explanation he gave.
Not sexual … but sexual
According to both Dina’s and Jim’s accounts, he informed her that an aide, Golan Cipel, was trying to extort money from him, or planned to sue him for sexual harassment. Jim had, by his own account, told several of his political cronies about this several days prior to discussing it with Dina, and they had tried to find some way to raise up to five million dollars to “pay off” Cipel, to keep the “story from coming out.” His political advisors, according to Jim, had told him that even if they were able to raise the money and pay it to Cipel, there was still a chance it would become public.
Dina said she asked Jim, “Why is Golan blackmailing you?” He answered “I had a relationship with him.” Then she wrote, “I still wasn’t getting it. I wasn’t allowing myself to get it.”
She said then Jim told her the relationship was, “Not sexual … but sexual.”
“I still was having trouble comprehending,” she wrote.
Though Jim, in his book, describes the first sexual encounter with the man he alleges was his lover, the man, Golan Cipel, a citizen of Israel, has denied that he ever had a sexual relationship with Jim McGreevey.
Dina expresses many of the things that many people who have been in intimate relationships with people high in psychopathic traits have expressed, “feeling a tangled mixture of bewilderment, injury, fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and at the same time, relief that he still valued me … still, I pitied him.”
“Even though I have come to accept what a sham Jim’s marriage to me was, my marriage to him was not a sham,” Dina wrote. “So there are still moments of reflection when I am stunned anew, not only by Jim’s capacity to exploit me emotionally, but as his willingness to do so.”
Dina went on to tell how her husband had placed his alleged homosexual lover, Golan Cipel, who wasn’t even an American citizen, as a “homeland security” advisor, in spite of heavy opposition from his other political supporters. He had also appointed several others to high offices in New Jersey, who ultimately betrayed those jobs criminally and were prosecuted, convicted and sentenced for doing so. At the time Golan made his alleged “extortion demand,” the entire administration was coming unraveled with cries of corruption.
Interestingly enough, Dina talks about how Jim lied to her about everything, even minor things. How secretive he was and how he withheld information from her, twisted facts, or simply refused to tell her things that should have been “marital business”—like him selling a house without even letting her know about it. Then toward the end of the marriage, when she was talking to him about these men he appointed who behaved criminally, she said she knew that “Jim didn’t know” they would do this “because he told her so.” Her ability to see Jim as a pathological liar, and yet to believe him in this particular instance in which it was “beneficial” for him to say he didn’t knowingly appoint crooks to state jobs, doesn’t make sense, but I have observed this very thing with other people dealing with pathological liars.
Jim, in his book, talks about having to find a place in his administration (a job) for his alleged lover, Golan, and that Golan wanted a “front office” job working directly with him. Jim goes on to say Golan demanded this and that, and that Jim found Golan’s behavior both “boyishly charming and unbelievably churlish.”
Jim then says he “increasingly rely(ied) on his advice and candor” and decided that New Jersey needed an office of counter-terrorism after 9/11, even though there was a Domestic Security Task Force already in place.” Finding Golan a job that he (Golan) considered appropriate was a priority. In the meantime, while Jim is spending so much time with Golan, his wife and baby daughter, who was born prematurely, are still in the hospital. During this time, the affair allegedly became sexual with Golan, according to Jim’s account.
Jim tried to justify in his book his political appointments of Golan, and his other politically motivated and corrupt appointments, as appropriate. When several of his appointments were criminally prosecuted, and Golan had been drummed out of his job, the control Jim exercised came tumbling down around his feet. Jim still expected Dina to stand with him, to help him retain “face.”
Jim’s term as governor of New Jersey came to an embarrassing end that he could no longer control. His aspirations for the White House were dashed, and Jim was desperately trying to find some way to save face.
‘For the record, I apologize’ … His face was expressionless. His tone flat.
And that was it. One single sentence. This is the way you apologize to your wife for lying and cheating on her, for humiliating her in front of the entire world? It was such a pitiful, perfunctory specimen of a throw away apology that I would have preferred none. I didn’t dignify it with a response. It didn’t deserve one. I turned away in disgust.
Dina wrote about how she was ashamed after the press conference where Jim announced his resignation … to be seen in public and recognized, to be at work and seen by people she had worked around for years.
I didn’t know how to face them. I was ashamed. How could I have allowed something like this to happen to me? What did people think? … Many journalists were convinced that I’d known all along that Jim was gay and that my marriage had been a contrived political arrangement … I was an opportunist … I wanted to be first lady and wanted to advance my own political future. My exposure—my humiliation—was public.
In addition, Dina quotes a long interview with Kari Schutz, Jim’s first wife, which insinuates that she knew that Jim was gay, though not saying as much directly. Dina then wrote:
Jim hadn’t been some young man who had been confused about his sexuality, who had tried marriage with a woman, only to come to terms with the fact he was gay. Jim was 43 when we married, and had been married before. By all accounts, he had known of his preferences for men many years before our relationship. And despite his lofty stance about his desire to live an authentic life as a “gay American,” Jim’s coming out had been prompted not by a soul-searching or by a desire to live his truth, but by blackmail.
Even though Dina was furious at Jim, and knew that shortly after his announcement that they would be moving out of the governor’s mansion in New Jersey, that they would not be living together, still, she and Jim continued to socialize with mutual couple friends, taking weekend trips and going to dinner. Though Dina didn’t make new appointments as first lady of New Jersey, she continued to keep the ones already on her calendar.
Keeping up face in public, or hiding behind disguises when out in public, seemed to be the order of the day for both of them. Jim admits in his book that the appointment of Golan for a job for $110,000 caused early accusations of their relationship as being lovers, as early as five weeks after his investiture as governor. He called a meeting with a staffer to cover for his alleged affair. Jim admits that one of the state senators called for a hearing on why the governor had appointed a man who wasn’t even a U.S. citizen to a highly sensitive security position. This also started Jim’s snowball to exposure rolling down hill, covering up for one lie with another. Of course Jim’s book carefully points out that this was all just a “political move” on the part of the senator, though he himself was lying through his teeth about appointing his alleged lover to a position of authority and high salary.
I spent my whole life in the closet and in politics, never allowing the two tracks to cross. I’d mastered both universes. I had everything under control.
When directly questioned earlier about his supposed affair with Golan, Jim answered one reporter, Sandy McClure, with, “That’s just absurd.” Jim went on to say, “that wasn’t quite a lie: the notion that I would have a gay affair under these conditions was nothing if not absurd.” He goes on to damn McClure for continuing to “hound him” about the affair and the lies he was telling … well, the “not quite lies.”
The light starts to shine
During the three months between the announcement of his resignation and the gay affair, and when they actually got ready to leave the governor’s mansion in mid-November, Dina was still ambivalent and in shock. But finally she started to see what was going on with a man that she still actually shared a bed with.
I realized Jim was treating me as his adversary and would fight me with whatever it took. Jim’s resistance wasn’t about money anyhow, not at its cramped little heart. It was, once again, about secrets and betrayals. He had hidden from me what he did with his time, and he had hidden from me what he did with his body, and now he was hiding from me what he’d done with money that, in actuality, was ours.
Dina recounts how she found what was apparently part of the first draft of Jim’s book lying on her kitchen table about a month before she had to leave the governor’s mansion, She quotes from it, “while my first marriage was a real attempt to try to live a normal life, my second was for political benefits. I married a woman for political gain. It was the lowest point in my moral life…” Later in the same document, Dina said that he described his first alleged sexual-nonsexual encounter with Golan while she was in the hospital with pregnancy complications of their daughter.
In his book, The Confession, Jim says:
I treasured her companionship, and in my way I loved her. But as a gay man, I could only love her so much.
Dina says in hers:
His deep-seated need for approval does not extend to me, and his grasp of truth seems to be tenuous—as I thought when I saw, on the jacket of his book, his claim that (our daughter) lived with him and his partner.
Reading these two very different views on the same events was quite interesting. Of the two, Dina’s sounded the least self-serving to me. While Jim McGreevey lives an openly gay relationship with his current partner, I don’t believe that if he had not been backed into a corner, he would have dumped his political aspirations for the White House in exchange for living an “authentic life” as a “gay American.” I think he was a politician first willing to turn his “immoral compass” in whatever direction he thought would benefit his political ambitions. I think Dina Matos McGreevey was simply a young woman who thought she had “married up,” but really had married down … way down.
Golan Cipel’s website, which sounds authentic, denies that he ever had a “relationship” with Jim, except as an employee and as a victim. Read more about him here:
It is unfortunate that there is no hard evidence either way. However, we do know that Jim McGreevey is an admitted liar and manipulates other people for his own purposes.
People who are high in psychopathic traits and low in empathy can use others to further their own ambitions, whatever those ambitions are. They can hold out a “mirror” to others to convince the others that they love them, that they treasure them, that they have the partner’s best interests at heart, when the opposite is the real truth. In truth, people high in psychopathic traits use others to further their own ends.
In the end, in assessing what kind of person McGreevey is, it doesn’t matter if Jim McGreevey had an affair with Golan Cipel or not. What Jim does admit, marrying Dina for political reasons and to cover up for his sexual preferences, is a horrible, and something that no empathetic or honest person would even consider. It is also a fact that his administration was troubled by corrupt people that he appointed.
My own personal opinion: McGreevey saying that he is a “gay American” is an effort to try to save face, when he should instead, if he had a conscience, say, I am a corrupt American, I am a lying man who knowingly used a woman who loved me to cover for my lies about my sexuality. I doubt that Jim McGreevey will do that though, because I think honest self-examination is not one of his strong suits.