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August 19, 2003

Assemblyman John Rooney, R-Bergen, today said that an independent counsel, not the Attorney General’s Office, should be investigating allegations of illegal fundraising tactics employed by Roger Chugh on behalf of Governor McGreevey’s 2001 campaign.

"The Director of the Division of Law, Paul Josephson was McGreevey’s top campaign attorney," said Rooney, R-Bergen. "That presents a clear conflict of interest for the Attorney General’s Office in investigating Chugh’s actions as they relate to campaign fundraising."

According to reports in the Sunday edition of The Record of Hackensack, Paul Levinsohn, the campaign’s chief fundraiser, was responsible for investigating complaints about Chugh’s fundraising practices during the 2001 gubernatorial campaign.

Rooney noted that Josephson also played a role in the ongoing scandal surrounding a billboard business operated by Levinsohn and former McGreevey Chief of Staff Gary Taffet.

"Not only was Josephson the McGreevey campaign attorney, but he is a close associate of Levinsohn who reviewed the Chugh contributions," Rooney said. "Given these circumstances, I would feel a lot more confident about this investigation if it were conducted by an office other than that of the Attorney General."

Rooney said that for these reasons he believes it is appropriate for an independent counsel to be appointed who could look into the allegations of a possible "shake-down" by Chugh of campaign contributors.


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