Governor to Tap Chief Counsel as Next AG

Thursday, August 24, 2006

New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine will tap his chief counsel, Stuart Rabner, to replace outgoing Attorney General Zulima Farber, according to a senior state official.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity, so as not to upstage a news conference the governor has planned for 5 p.m. Thursday.

Before he was tapped as Corzine's chief legal adviser, Rabner, 46, headed the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's office in Newark, supervising 100 attorneys and staff prosecuting terrorism and corruption cases.

Rabner graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and summa cum laude from Princeton University. His nomination would need to be confirmed by the state Senate.

Rabner did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Farber announced her resignation last week, hours after a special prosecutor released a report saying she violated state ethics laws by going to the scene of her boyfriend's traffic stop in May and allowing police to give him preferential treatment.

Her last day is Aug. 31.

The attorney general is the state's top law enforcement officer and, arguably, the governor's most important Cabinet pick. That person will oversee the Department of Law and Public Safety, whose nearly 9,000 employees include the New Jersey State Police and who work to protect citizens' civil and consumer rights.

Unlike other Cabinet-level posts, the attorney general is appointed to a four-year term by the governor and cannot be fired at will. The governor can remove the attorney general "for cause," but that has never been tested before.

The attorney general has more job protection than other Cabinet members so that they can make prosecutorial decisions - and even investigate or prosecute the governor - without fear of retaliation.

Cabinet members earn $141,000 a year.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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