Finding Faith: Jim McGreevey's second life
NEW JERSEY (FOX5NY) - New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey's stunning resignation 12 years ago catapulted him into the national spotlight when he proclaimed himself a "gay American." at the time, the married governor had been backed into a corner facing a possible sexual harassment lawsuit from his homeland security adviser, Golen Cipel.
"I think that was the start of my journey," McGreevey says. "I think that is the start of the authentic journey. That was the start of what was real."
Minutes before facing the press to reveal his secret, he says he mustered courage by praying.
"And I remember walking into the bathroom and holding onto that scapula and looking into the mirror and said, 'Grandma, here it is. I'm being truthful and I'm being honest and I am doing what God would want me to do.' and I was just praying to her, and through her. You think of life of profound turns. That was one of them," McGreevey says.
The former governor, now just "Jim", spoke to Fox 5 News at Martin's Place in Jersey City. It is one of several prisoner re-entry programs he runs around the state. Redemption and a second chance is something McGreevey feels he got after leaving office.
"I had the chance to realign my life, to live my life, God willing, on the precepts I hold important and to begin again. So, that was a powerful gift," McGreevey says. "My God, at that time, sadly, was politics and myself."
Now he finds ex-cons jobs, housing, and most importantly, inspiration. Most of the men and women he helps had no idea the man they call "Jim" used to be the most powerful leader in New Jersey.
A man known as Arthur is one of those who have been helped. He just finished serving 30 months in prison.
"If we can't get that second chance, that's why we go back to the life of crime because that's the only thing we knew," Arthur says.
Gone are the perks and power of the governor's office but, as McGreevey puts it, also gone are the lies.
"You know, doing God's will in your life doesn't mean you are going to be free from pain, doesn't mean you're going to free from discomfort or suffering but it means that at the end of the day you're doing the right thing for the right reasons and it's going to be OK," McGreevey says.
He said he has temptations when people say he should run for office again but, "I realize in my heart that's not healthy for me."
He added, "It's about ego. It's about me. It's not about service to the community. Being here, working with our clients, being grounded, keeps me very much in a place of service. I'm much more comfortable with who and what I am now."