More than two months after New Jersey governor James E. McGreevey said he would resign in the wake of an extramarital gay affair, federal investigators have interviewed the former aide who was reported to have been the man he had the affair with. Two FBI agents interviewed Golan Cipel in his native Israel "at length" on Wednesday, FBI spokesman Steve Kodak said Thursday. Kodak said he could not
comment on the content of the interview. McGreevey had lodged an extortion complaint with the FBI, claiming that Cipel, his former homeland security adviser, threatened to file a sexual harassment lawsuit unless the governor paid him millions of dollars. Cipel has denied the charge.
In a statement released through an Israeli public relations agency, Cipel said the meeting with the agents took place in his home in Rishon Letzion without lawyers. "This is a great day for me. I left with the feeling that the FBI investigators accept my version of the affair and agree that there was no extortion. After months of suffering, today I feel great relief and much happiness that the truth is beginning to come to light," he said in the statement. His lawyer, Paul Batista, said Cipel again maintained that he never had a sexual relationship with the governor, telling the FBI he was upset over the governor's sexual advances. "Cipel never participated in them and maintains he is as straight as Clint
Eastwood," Batista told WNBC-TV.
Cipel never filed a lawsuit, and he returned to Israel after the governor announced his resignation on August 12. McGreevey said he will leave office November 15. McGreevey's lawyer, William Lawler, said he was pleased that the agents had met with Cipel, "so long as Golan told the truth." Lawler added, "We made the referral because there were very serious concerns about the conduct and what the governor had been subjected to."