NEW YORK: Two years before his resignation, Gov. James McGreevey (D-NJ) solicited PR advice from a friend and industry pro, hoping to stem the controversy surrounding his top security adviser, Golan Cipel.
At the time, that controversy involved Cipel's inability to get security clearance for the high-ranking position.
Howard Rubenstein never worked for McGreevey - and still hasn't - but when the governor asked for advice, Rubenstein said the press would not relent as long as Cipel held office. "They'll bleed to death politically with a thousand cuts," he said, recalling the PR strategy behind that advice.
Rubenstein added that there was "no inkling whatsoever" of any personal relationship between McGreevey and Cipel.
Shortly after that meeting, Cipel left the governor's office to become VP of public affairs for MWW Group, a job he held for less than a month.
And, for almost two years, that was that. "It worked for that particular issue," Rubenstein said about the PR strategy.
He added that McGreevey has not asked for advice around his resignation. Nor would he speculate on what advice he would give, if asked.
Two PR veterans, Sheinkopf Communications president Hank Sheinkopf and GMMB partner Jim Margolis, reportedly provide media counsel to McGreevey. Neither returned calls for comment.
The governor has admitted to having had an affair with a man, alleged to be Cipel. Cipel has said the relationship was not consensual. Last Monday, his lawyers said he would not file a sexual-harassment suit.
Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein Associates, has remained in the fray after real-estate developer Charles Kushner, McGreevey's top campaign donor, pleaded guilty to 18 federal charges. Rubenstein said he represents Kushner's company, Kushner Cos. The Asbury Park Press, which first reported that PR played a role in Cipel's 2002 resignation, also said Kushner gave Cipel his first PR job in the US at Kushner Cos.