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Jeffrey Chiesa

Jeffrey Chiesa
United States Senator
from New Jersey
In office
June 6, 2013 – October 31, 2013
Appointed by Chris Christie
Preceded by Frank Lautenberg
Succeeded by Cory Booker
59th Attorney General of New Jersey
In office
January 10, 2012 – June 6, 2013
Governor Chris Christie
Preceded by Paula Dow
Succeeded by John Hoffman (Acting)
Personal details
Born Jeffrey Scott Chiesa
(1965-06-22) June 22, 1965
Somerville, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jenny Sullivan
Alma mater University of Notre Dame
Catholic University of America
Religion Roman Catholicism

Jeffrey Scott Chiesa (; born June 22, 1965) is an American politician and member of the Republican Party who served as the Attorney General of New Jersey from 2012 to 2013 and as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey in 2013.

Chiesa was sworn in as Attorney General on January 10, 2012. Prior to that appointment, he served as Chief Counsel to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie announced on June 6, 2013 that he would appoint Chiesa to the United States Senate seat that was vacated by the death of Frank Lautenberg.[1] On June 10, 2013, Chiesa was sworn in as a Senator.[2] He declined to run for the remainder of the Senate term in the 2013 special election, which was won by Democrat Cory Booker.


  • Early life, education, and early law career 1
  • U.S. Attorney's Office 2
  • Chief Counsel to Governor Christie 3
  • Attorney General of New Jersey 4
  • U.S. Senate 5
    • Committee assignments 5.1
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life, education, and early law career

Chiesa grew up in Bound Brook, New Jersey, the eldest of three children. When he was 8 years old, his father, a chemical plant worker, died, and he was raised by his mother, a public school teacher.[3] He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1987 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting. He earned his J.D. from the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America in 1990.

In 1988, Chiesa joined the Cranford law firm of Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci (now known as Dughi & Hewit). There he met and befriended Chris Christie, who had joined the firm the year before.[4]

U.S. Attorney's Office

In 2002, he followed Christie to the office of the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, where he led a number of the office's high-profile public corruption cases, including the one against former State Senate President John A. Lynch, Jr.[3] He served as Counsel to the U.S. Attorney, Chief of the Public Protection Unit, and Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney. He left in 2009 to become a partner in the firm of Wolff & Samson.[4]

Chief Counsel to Governor Christie

In 2009, after Christie was elected Governor of New Jersey, Chiesa headed his transition team.[5] Christie then named Chiesa his chief counsel.[3] In June 2010, Christie sent him to speak to Republican Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, to persuade him to drop his opposition to the budget because it cut proportionally more aid to suburban schools than to urban ones.[6]

Attorney General of New Jersey

On December 12, 2011, Governor Christie nominated Chiesa to succeed Paula Dow as Attorney General of New Jersey.[7] Chiesa was sworn in as Dow's successor on January 10, 2012.[8]

Chiesa supported mandatory drug rehab treatment for non-violent drug offenders and holding violent defendants without bail.[9] In January 2012, he proposed a comprehensive program to crack down on prescription drug abuse addictions and overdoses.[10]

In February 2012, he helped deliver $837.7 million to distressed homeowners of New Jersey from a settlement with major banks. The state had 10.6% of homeowners who are 90 or more days delinquent on their mortgage, the third-highest percentage in the nation at the time.[11]

In April 2012, he announced the arrest of three men accused of theft at several Home Depot stores across five states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and New York. They were "under-ringing" their purchases at self-checkout machines and were charged with more than 500 illegal transactions totaling more than $100,000.[12] In the same month, he announced the arrests of 27 people in a major child pornography incident, that required the involvement of more than 100 law enforcement officers for "Operation Watchdog."[13] He also filed a lawsuit against John Kot and Gabriel R. DaSilva of leading home improvement companies for defrauding people and breaking several laws.[14]

U.S. Senate

On June 6, 2013, Governor Chris Christie announced that he would appoint Chiesa, a resident of Branchburg, New Jersey, to succeed recently deceased United States Senator Frank Lautenberg.[1][15] Chiesa announced that he would not seek election to the seat in the 2013 special election.[16] In the news conference, he said that "I'm a conservative Republican, generally speaking." In regard to immigration reform, he stated, "I think the first thing we have to do is make sure the borders are secure."[17]

Chiesa resigned as Attorney General on June 6, 2013 and Executive Assistant Attorney General John Jay Hoffman became acting Attorney General. Chiesa was sworn into the Senate on June 10, 2013 by Vice President Joe Biden. Chiesa was the first Republican senator to represent New Jersey since 1982 when then-Governor Thomas Kean appointed Nicholas F. Brady to the Senate in order to fill a vacancy.[18]

Chiesa's vote was seen as crucial to the passing of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. John McCain joked that "I'm going to subject him to intense interrogation—I may waterboard the guy. Or maybe tell him that he's either going to support this legislation or hire someone to start his car in the morning."[19] He ultimately voted for the bill, which prompted conservative commentator Ann Coulter to proclaim that Christie was "dead to me" for appointing Chiesa to the Senate.[20] In July 2013, he signed the Mike Lee letter which called for an amendment to the continuing resolution that would defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[21] He opposed Democratic attempts to reinsert funding for the Affordable Care Act[22] but ultimately voted for the Reid-McConnell bill to end the shutdown.[23]

He used his time in the Senate to try to draw attention to the issue of human trafficking[24] and, according to The Washington Post, voted with his party 84% of the time.[25] He left the Senate on October 31, 2013 when Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who won the special election, was sworn in.[2] Chiesa recorded a tenure of 129 days, the fourth-shortest of the 65 U.S. Senators who have served in New Jersey's history.[26]

Chiesa has ruled out the possibility of running for the seat in the regularly-scheduled 2014 election but would consider running for office in the future.[27]

Committee assignments


  1. ^ a b "Governor Christie: Attorney General Jeff Chiesa Is The Best Person For The Job". June 6, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2013-October 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Meredith Shiner. "WGDB: Chiesa» Sworn In as Senator" (June 10, 2013).
  3. ^ a b c Christopher Baxter (January 25, 2012). "New N.J. attorney general takes the reins at a turbulent time for crime fighters".  
  4. ^ a b "Biography of Jeffrey S. Chiesa". Office of the  
  5. ^ Delli Santi, Angela (November 11, 2009). "Fiscal emergency is option for NJ's gov-elect". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ Friedman, Matt (June 28, 2010). "Trenton braces for budget marathon". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ Tom Hester Sr. (December 12, 2011). "Attorney General Paula Dow to be replaced by Christie's counsel Jeff Chiesa". Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  8. ^ Ray Smith (January 13, 2012). "New Jersey officially has a new attorney general".  
  9. ^ "Chiesa pushes mandatory drug offender treatment in Jersey City meeting". The Jersey Journal. April 26, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  10. ^ Baxter, Christopher. "N.J. Attorney General announces new prescription drug addiction program". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  11. ^ Beeson, Ed; Portlock, Sarah (February 9, 2012). "U.S. settlement with mortgage servicers will deliver nearly $838 million to N.J.". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ "N.J. arrests three men for alleged five-state Home Depot theft ring". NewsWorks. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ "27 N.J. residents arrested in major child porn investigation". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  14. ^ "N.J. home improvement companies sued". Legal Newsline. April 23, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  15. ^ Santora, Marc; and Zernike, Kate. "Attorney General of New Jersey Named as Interim Senator", The New York Times, June 6, 2013. Accessed June 6, 2013-October 30, 2013.
  16. ^ Zernike, Kate; Santora, Marc (June 6, 2013). "Christie Picks New Jersey’s Attorney General to Be Interim Senator".  
  17. ^ Haberman, Maggie. "Chris Christie appoints Jeff Chiesa as interim senator". Politico. Retrieved June 6, 2013-October 31, 2013. 
  18. ^ Camia, Catalina (June 10, 2003). "5 things to know about NJ Sen. Jeff Chiesa". 
  19. ^ Julie Hirschfeld Davis (June 27, 2013). "". Business Week. 
  20. ^ John Celock (June 28, 2013). "Ann Coulter Says Chris Christie Is Dead To Her For Jeff Chiesa's Immigration Vote". The Huffington Post. 
  21. ^ Joshua Withrow (August 14, 2013). "Have Your Members of Congress Signed the 'Defund ObamaCare' Letter? Find Out Here!". FreedomWorks. Retrieved October 11, 2013. 
  22. ^ Herb Jackson (September 27, 2013). "Temporary NJ senator mixes votes on shutdown bills". 
  23. ^ Cameron, Darla; Andrews, Wilson (October 16, 2013). "Votes to end the government shutdown". The Washington Post. 
  24. ^ Jonathan Tamari (October 31, 2013). "Chiesa looks back fondly on a brief Senate career". 
  25. ^ Herb Jackson (October 30, 2013). "Interim Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa wins accolades from both parties". 
  26. ^ Ostermeier, Eric (June 7, 2013). "Chiesa to Tally 4th Shortest Senate Tenure in New Jersey History". Smart Politics. 
  27. ^ Nix, Naomi (October 31, 2013). "Jeff Chiesa won't rule out running for office again, report says". 

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Paula Dow
Attorney General of New Jersey
Succeeded by
John Hoffman
United States Senate
Preceded by
Frank Lautenberg
United States Senator (Class 2) from New Jersey
Served alongside: Bob Menendez
Succeeded by
Cory Booker
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