ELIZABETH, N.J. - The nation's first openly gay governor could have become a political talk-show host, pursued a movie deal or otherwise cashed in on his notoriety after a gay sex scandal forced him from the New Jersey chief executive's office four years ago, a lawyer for his estranged wife tried to show yesterday.
John Post, who represents Dina Matos McGreevey, spent much of the day trying to convince a judge that former Gov. James McGreevey had ample opportunity to cash in on his fame. McGreevey, 50, has testified that he does not want to pursue high-profile jobs. He said he wants to get on with his life - quietly.
Post is trying to show that McGreevey is underestimating his earning potential and worth to avoid paying alimony to his soon-to-be ex-wife. McGreevey lawyer Stephen Haller wants to show that McGreevey, an Episcopal seminary student, is leading a different life now and is too poor to pay.
The McGreeveys split in 2004, months after he announced his resignation on national television in a speech in which he declared himself "a gay American" and said he had had an affair with a male staffer.
The McGreeveys have agreed on custody of their only child, a 6-year-old girl, but are far apart on whether, and how much, money she should get.
The salary the ex-governor can expect to earn, whether he's employable after the sex scandal and whether Matos McGreevey was deprived of perks of the governor's office have dominated the second phase of the trial. Matos McGreevey, 41, claims that she should be compensated for 13 months that she would have lived in the governor's mansion had McGreevey not resigned in disgrace. The worth of the so-called gubernatorial lifestyle - including state-police security, a personal chef, a household staff, and use of two beach houses - and whether Matos McGreevey is entitled to be compensated for it was the subject of much of yesterday's testimony.
An accountant hired by McGreevey said that it would cost $15,000 a month for the governor and his estranged wife to live like they did at the governor's mansion; an expert hired by Dina Matos McGreevey said it would cost $51,000 a month.
The two sides also clashed over the cachet of the McGreevey name.
His expert, Sharyn Maggio, said that neither McGreevey nor his wife could expect to enhance their earnings based on the fame they achieved from his resignation or their Court TV-televised divorce.
"Charles Manson was famous," Maggio testified. "That doesn't equate to celebrity in the financial sense."
However, his wife's expert says that McGreevey could earn $1.4 million in his lifetime because of the celebrity status attached to his name, a legal concept known as "celebrity goodwill."