Referred to by Chris Christie as a “close, trusted adviser and friend,” Jeff Chiesa has had a front row seat in witnessing the New Jersey governor’s rise as a national political star. The new Attorney General has worked alongside Christie for 20 years. He was Christie’s executive assistant at the U.S. Attorney’s office and most recently the governor’s chief counsel.
In the second of a two-part interview, Chiesa told NJToday’s Mike Schneider that there was never a time he thought Christie was going to run for President of the U.S. “In my mind, he was not running for president …. he loves the job he has, he’s been in New Jersey his whole life,” said Chiesa.
The governor has often been criticized for his forceful tone. But Chiesa said his boss’s candor is not mean-spirited and reflects “a passion for all the issues” and “doing what he believes is right.”
Chiesa has made combating urban violence a priority for his office. He said he plans to listen to local leaders and work with State Police Col. Rick Fuentes to determine how to best allocate state resources to supplement what is already in place in the communities.
When asked about the possibility of the death penalty being reinstated in New Jersey, Chiesa, whose views on the issue have changed over time, doesn’t think it’s a good idea to bring it back. “In the one instance when you’re not right about that, there’s no way, in any way, to remedy that decision and the consequences of administering that penalty,” said Chiesa.
He declined to speak about any strategies going forward to overturn the federal ban on sports betting in New Jersey.
On the issue of same-sex marriage, Chiesa said that his role as the state’s top legal advisor is to defend the constitutionality of the laws as they exist now and as they are passed.