ELIZABETH, N.J. - Former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey said yesterday that he owes a quarter-million dollars to his boyfriend but wants to pay child support for the daughter he has with his estranged wife, as well as for his first child.
The nation's first openly gay governor denied, however, that he is financially dependent on boyfriend Mark O'Donnell.
"I want to fulfill my obligations," McGreevey told a state judge during his third day of testimony in his divorce trial. "Unfortunately, I've had to bankrupt myself to pay legal fees upon legal fees."
McGreevey said O'Donnell has lent him money to pay much of his legal costs, as well as the $3,000 a month that McGreevey is charged to reside in O'Donnell's Plainfield mansion.
Yet McGreevey said he could not recall asking O'Donnell to cover child support for a daughter by his first wife, and he is now $11,000 behind.
The testimony came under questioning by John N. Post, lawyer for his second wife, Dina Matos McGreevey. She is seeking alimony and child support in order to maintain the lifestyle she would have enjoyed had he not resigned in 2004 amid a gay-sex scandal. McGreevey has said he can't afford alimony.
McGreevey, 50, asserted yesterday that he plans to repay O'Donnell, but "it's going to take decades."
The former governor makes about $48,000 a year from two jobs, and his current expenses of nearly $11,000 a month do not include his $12,000 annual tuition at an Episcopal seminary, Post noted.
Matos McGreevey, 41, a hospital executive who earns about $82,000 a year, is slated to lose her job next month when the hospital closes.
O'Donnell was expected to testify that he has lent McGreevey more than $200,000. But McGreevey lawyer Stephen P. Haller said he decided not to call O'Donnell because his testimony would be only "corroborative."
O'Donnell was hired about six months ago as chief investment officer of the Kushner Companies, a private real estate development firm chaired by Charles Kushner, a once-prominent Democratic campaign donor and McGreevey benefactor who served time in federal prison for campaign and tax-law violations.
McGreevey testified that he didn't encourage Kushner and O'Donnell to get together, but said he thinks they became acquainted during a party he and O'Donnell had at O'Donnell's mansion.
Post wanted to pursue Kushner matters, but was halted by Superior Court Judge Karen M. Cassidy. Post noted that Kushner helped bring an Israeli, Golan Cipel, to the United States.
During a 2004 speech in which he called himself "a gay American," McGreevey said he had an affair with a male staff member. The employee was later identified as Cipel. Cipel denies the affair and says he was sexually harassed by the governor.
McGreevey and his estranged wife have lived apart nearly as long as the four years they were together. Cassidy had urged them to settle, and did broker a private agreement on custody of the McGreeveys' 6-year-old child, Jacqueline.
The financial issues are the second phase of the divorce. McGreevey's testimony is to continue on Tuesday.
The last phase of the proceedings will address Matos McGreevey's fraud claim. She says she was duped into marriage by a closeted gay man who needed a wife to advance his political career.
McGreevey says she should have known he was gay and that the marriage was "a contrivance on both our parts."