McGreevey says wife paid for wedding

May 15, 2008 3:20:00 PM PDT
When it comes to finding work, former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey is "radioactive," an employment expert testified Thursday during the gay ex-governor's divorce trial. The witness, Donna Kolsky, said the gay sex scandal that toppled the McGreevey administration and his messy public divorce have made him so toxic that prospective employers gasp when his name is mentioned.

The testimony came during the second phase of McGreevey's divorce trial, when the judge will decide on alimony, child support and how the Garden State's former first couple should divide their assets and liabilities. The couple have agreed on custody of their only child, 6-year-old Jacqueline.

McGreevey, who is taking classes at an Episcopal seminary, is trying to convince the judge he is too poor to pay alimony to his estranged wife. She says the payments should be based in part on his "marital conduct," including an alleged gay affair.

The McGreeveys split in 2004, months after he announced his resignation on national television in a speech in which he declared himself "a gay American" and said he had an affair with a male staffer. The staffer, Golan Cipel, denies the affair and says he was sexually harassed by the governor.

Dina Matos McGreevey, 41, claims her time as New Jersey's first lady was cut short after when her husband resigned 13 months before his first term ended. Now she wants him to pay for the lifestyle she would have enjoyed had he not resigned.

On Thursday, McGreevey detailed that lifestyle, which included the use of state police helicopters, household servants, personal security and two beach homes.

McGreevey lawyer Stephen Haller flatly rejected Matos McGreevey's contention that she should receive compensation for loss of those perks.

"She is no more entitled today to have a state trooper drive her to work and her child to day care than I am," said Haller. "It is a greedy claim, and it's illicit."

Earlier Thursday, McGreevey said his wife paid for their wedding in Washington, D.C., but he couldn't remember who paid the bill for their honeymoon in Rome.

"Dina handled the wedding arrangements, and the wedding trip, and to a large extent she handled the honeymoon," McGreevey, 50, testified.

He testified that the lifestyle the couple enjoyed while he was governor was paid for mostly by others - chiefly taxpayers.

Kolsky was called to bolster McGreevey's contention that his spectacular political fall and the extensive media coverage of his divorce have left him unable to find work except through friends. She estimated his maximum earning potential at $118,000 a year.

Kolsky said McGreevey is no longer qualified to practice law or work in the pharmaceutical industry because it has been years since he's done either.

"The ability of Mr. McGreevey to find a job without contacts is greatly diminished," said Kolsky, who conducted job searches for the former governor last year, then wrote a report on her failure to find him suitable work.

John Post, who represents Matos McGreevey, said the former governor's income tax returns show solid earnings in McGreevey's post-gubernatorial years. McGreevey earned $185,000 last year, according to his tax returns.

Matos McGreevey is asking the court to award her additional money based on the contention that McGreevey committed marriage fraud. She says she was duped into marrying a gay man who needed the cover of a wife to advance his political career.

McGreevey says his wife should have known he was gay.

Since their split, McGreevey and his wife have each written their own tell-all book about their life together and the fallout from the sex scandal.

Despite book proceeds that boosted his income to $429,000 in 2006, McGreevey painted a bleak picture of his finances. He said he owes a prior divorce lawyer at least $116,000 and has not paid his first ex-wife any child support this year.

He said he relies on boyfriend Mark O'Donnell to pay legal bills and lifestyle expenses, lives in a house owned by O'Donnell and owes O'Donnell money.

Matos McGreevey, a hospital executive who earns about $82,000 a year, is slated to lose her job next month when the hospital closes.

The trial is set to resume Monday.