Richard E. Constable III, a top cabinet official in the Christie administration who oversaw the state's Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts and other high-profile programs, is resigning to take a job in the private sector.
"Rich has served me extraordinarily well for more than a decade, and I appreciate his service to this state and the country," Gov. Christie said in a statement Monday.
As commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, Constable "took on some of the most complex issues impacting New Jerseyans, from controlling local property taxes to Sandy recovery," Christie said.
Constable was a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office when Christie held the top post there, before he first ran for governor in 2009. Constable joined the administration in 2012 and often was caught in the crosshairs of controversy.
While Christie's popularity soared in the immediate aftermath of Sandy in October 2012, public opinion of the administration's handling of Sandy recovery has soured.
Constable, whose department oversaw the administration of Sandy programs, such as Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation, and Mitigation, became a target of frustration for residents displaced by the storm.
In one high-profile episode in January 2014, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer accused Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Constable of threatening to withhold Sandy relief if Zimmer did not advance a politically connected real estate project.
Zimmer provided her diary as evidence to federal prosecutors, who had just begun investigating revelations that Christie allies had apparently conspired to close lanes at the George Washington Bridge in September 2013.
Constable and other Christie officials denied Zimmer's allegations. A law firm hired by Christie's office to investigate the matter said in a report that the allegations were "demonstrably false" and contradicted by Zimmer's prior statements.
The report, written by the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, added: "Commissioner Constable's account of what transpired is corroborated by hard evidence, contemporaneous with the events in question, and an independent witness's account. Mayor Zimmer's is not."
No one has been charged with a crime.
As community affairs commissioner, Constable also chaired the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), which is responsible for determining municipalities' obligations to provide housing for low- and moderate-income residents.
The council has been rudderless for more than a decade, and the state Supreme Court this month called it a "moribund" agency.
The high court transferred COAH's regulatory authority to trial courts, which will determine whether towns are meeting their "fair share" of the region's affordable housing needs in accordance with the court's Mount Laurel decisions.
In the statement, the governor's office credited Constable with opening Sandy housing recovery centers in the nine counties hit hardest by the storm, and for overseeing the administration of billions in federal recovery funds.
"I'm extraordinarily grateful for the opportunities Gov. Christie has given me to serve the public over the last 13 years," Constable said in a statement. His last day is Friday.
Constable will join Wyndham Worldwide as a senior vice president of government relations and commercial contracts, the company said in a statement.
Constable's deputy, Charles A. Richman, will become acting commissioner. Christie plans to nominate Richman to the post full-time, the governor's office said; he would need to be confirmed by the Senate.