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McGreevey Says He Welcomes Look at Ex-Aide's Fund-Raising

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEWARK, Aug. 19 — Gov. James E. McGreevey said today that he welcomed federal and state investigations into the campaign fund-raising tactics of a former member of his administration.

The United States attorney's office said Monday that it was investigating allegations that the aide, Roger Chugh, had improperly solicited campaign donations by pressuring business owners who needed inspections and zoning variances from Woodbridge Township, where Mr. McGreevey was then mayor.

Mr. McGreevey said he was confident in the process set up by his campaign to ensure that contributions were made willingly and properly before his victory in November 2001.

"We established in the campaign the strictest vetting process, to vet every check," Mr. McGreevey said.

After The Record of Hackensack first reported the complaints Sunday, and quoted two donors who said Mr. Chugh had offered help with township business in return for contributions, the state attorney general, Peter J. Harvey, also began an inquiry.

Chuck Davis, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, would not discuss specifics of the state's inquiry today, but he said investigators planned to talk with Middlesex County business owners who accuse Mr. Chugh, 49, of strong-arming them for campaign donations in the years leading up to the 2001 gubernatorial election.

Mr. Chugh resigned in June as an assistant commissioner in the State Department of State. And Mr. McGreevey said he no longer has any relationship with him.

The Record reported that business owners in the Little India section of Woodbridge had complained that Mr. Chugh, an Indian-American, used threats and promises of political favors to raise money.

Mr. Chugh has not returned calls seeking comment.

The governor called reports that he had been informed about the allegations against Mr. Chugh "rubbish."

The Record report said Democratic leaders and prominent Indian-Americans in New Jersey warned Mr. McGreevey about Mr. Chugh.

But Mr. McGreevey appointed him to a consulting position with the Democratic State Committee and pronounced him "captain of the community" in the township's Little India section.

Republicans have called for an independent counsel, saying that Paul Josephson, director of the Division of Law, was a top attorney in the McGreevey campaign and could not give the matter an impartial review.

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