|United States Senator
from New Jersey
June 10, 2013 – October 31, 2013
|Appointed by||Chris Christie|
|Preceded by||Frank Lautenberg|
|Succeeded by||Cory Booker|
|59th Attorney General of New Jersey|
January 10, 2012 – June 6, 2013
|Preceded by||Paula Dow|
|Succeeded by||John Jay Hoffman (Acting)|
|Born||Jeffrey Scott Chiesa
June 22, 1965
Somerville, New Jersey, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Notre Dame
Catholic University of America
Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Chiesa (//; born June 22, 1965) is an American lawyer and politician who served as the Attorney General of New Jersey from 2012 to 2013 and as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey in 2013.
Chiesa was sworn in as Attorney General on January 10, 2012. Prior to that appointment, he served as Chief Counsel to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie announced on June 6, 2013 that he would appoint Chiesa to the United States Senate seat that was vacated by the death of Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg. On June 10, 2013, Chiesa was sworn in as a Senator. He declined to run for the remainder of the Senate term in the 2013 special election, which was won by Democrat Cory Booker.
Chiesa grew up in Bound Brook, New Jersey, the eldest of three children. When he was 8 years old, his father, a chemical plant worker, died, and he was raised by his mother, a public school teacher. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1987 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting. He earned his J.D. from the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America in 1990.
In 2002, he followed Christie to the office of the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, where he led a number of the office's high-profile public corruption cases, including the one against former State Senate President John A. Lynch, Jr. He served as Counsel to the U.S. Attorney, Chief of the Public Protection Unit, and Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney. He left in 2009 to become a partner in the firm of Wolff & Samson.
In 2009, after Christie was elected Governor of New Jersey, Chiesa headed his transition team. Christie then named Chiesa his chief counsel. In June 2010, Christie sent him to speak to Republican Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, to persuade him to drop his opposition to the budget because it cut proportionally more aid to suburban schools than to urban ones.
Chiesa supported mandatory drug rehab treatment for non-violent drug offenders and holding violent defendants without bail. In January 2012, he proposed a comprehensive program to crack down on prescription drug abuse addictions and overdoses.
In February 2012, he helped deliver $837.7 million to distressed homeowners of New Jersey from a settlement with major banks. The state had 10.6% of homeowners who are 90 or more days delinquent on their mortgage, the third-highest percentage in the nation at the time.
In April 2012, he announced the arrest of three men accused of theft at several Home Depot stores across five states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and New York. They were "under-ringing" their purchases at self-checkout machines and were charged with more than 500 illegal transactions totaling more than $100,000. In the same month, he announced the arrests of 27 people in a major child pornography incident, that required the involvement of more than 100 law enforcement officers for "Operation Watchdog." He also filed a lawsuit against John Kot and Gabriel R. DaSilva of leading home improvement companies for defrauding people and breaking several laws.
On June 6, 2013, Governor Chris Christie announced that he would appoint Chiesa, a resident of Branchburg, New Jersey, to succeed recently deceased United States Senator Frank Lautenberg. Chiesa announced that he would not seek election to the seat in the 2013 special election. In the news conference, he said that "I'm a conservative Republican, generally speaking." In regard to immigration reform, he stated, "I think the first thing we have to do is make sure the borders are secure."
Chiesa resigned as Attorney General on June 6, 2013 and Executive Assistant Attorney General John Jay Hoffman became acting Attorney General. Chiesa was sworn into the Senate on June 10, 2013 by Vice President Joe Biden. Chiesa was the first Republican senator to represent New Jersey since 1982 when then-Governor Thomas Kean appointed Nicholas F. Brady to the Senate in order to fill a vacancy.
Chiesa's vote was seen as crucial to the passing of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. John McCain joked that "I'm going to subject him to intense interrogation—I may waterboard the guy. Or maybe tell him that he's either going to support this legislation or hire someone to start his car in the morning." He ultimately voted for the bill, which prompted conservative commentator Ann Coulter to proclaim that Christie was "dead to me" for appointing Chiesa to the Senate. In July 2013, he signed the Mike Lee letter which called for an amendment to the continuing resolution that would defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He opposed Democratic attempts to reinsert funding for the Affordable Care Act but ultimately voted for the Reid-McConnell bill to end the shutdown.
He used his time in the Senate to try to draw attention to the issue of human trafficking and, according to The Washington Post, voted with his party 84% of the time. He left the Senate on October 31, 2013 when Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who won the special election, was sworn in. Chiesa recorded a tenure of 129 days, the fourth-shortest of the 65 U.S. Senators who have served in New Jersey's history.
|Attorney General of New Jersey
John Jay Hoffman
|United States Senate|
|United States Senator (Class 2) from New Jersey
Served alongside: Bob Menendez