WOOING HUDSON McGreevey's 'Confession' paints colorful pictures of Janiszewski, Byrne

McGreevey's 'Confession' paints colorful pictures of Janiszewski, Byrne
September 20, 2006  Jersey Journal

Instead a wearing a wire taped to his body, Hudson County's disgraced former county executive, Robert Janiszewski, carried a tape recorder for federal agents in his Doberman pinscher's collar.

Janiszewski's best friend and bagman, the late Paul Byrne, spent his 50th birthday in the Dominican Republic, where his friends rented him an entire whorehouse.

When, in 2001, Janiszewski switched his support for governor from James McGreevey to then-U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, Bob Menendez came to McGreevey's rescue, threatening Janiszewski with a "full-scale revolt" if he didn't back off.

And it was at a St. Patrick's Day Parade in Bayonne in 2003 that McGreevey had the "epiphany" that he had to part company with the Democratic Party's "bosses and warlords" in order to be effective as governor.

These and other tidbits about Hudson County are sprinkled throughout "The Confession" (Regan Books; $26.95) - McGreevey's 353-page tell-all memoir that went on sale yesterday, boosted by an extravagantly hyped appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

The Hudson County references didn't make "Oprah," but they add to the portrait of a man obsessed with being liked - and getting elected.

In between all the sex and lies McGreevey writes about, he touches in his early chapters on his family's immigrant roots in Jersey City. And while Catholic churches and schools are mentioned on what seems like every page, it's the votes he's after that brings him home time and again.

Several times in his career, McGreevey - born in Jersey City and raised in Carteret - assiduously tried to woo Janiszewski, now serving time in prison for extortion.

In 1997, faced with the prospect of squaring off against Rob Andrews in the gubernatorial primary, McGreevey tried to get Janiszewski, then the Hudson County Democratic chairman, to hold off making an endorsement.

Rumors were flying at the time that McGreevey was about to get arrested for having sex with a man in a cemetery.

Janiszewski wouldn't promise and in fact moved up his endorsement of Andrews, McGreevey writes. McGreevey defeated Andrews, but lost to Christie Whitman in the general election.

The constant campaigner never slowed and 19 months before Election Day 2001, McGreevey was back on Janiszewski's doorstep.

Janiszewski invited McGreevey in for breakfast, and while he stroked the head of his dog - which, it turned out, was probably bugged for a government sting - bragged about the "support he could deliver to the right candidate."

But the cagey Janiszewski never committed, sending McGreevey to Byrne for help. The ever-colorful Byrne, though, was more interested in telling his own tall tales than listening to McGreevey's sob story.

"Instead of answering me, he regaled me with a long story about his own 50th birthday party," McGreevey writes. "It seemed his friends had bought him a ticket to the Dominican Republic, where they'd rented an entire whorehouse for his exclusive pleasures.

"A few weeks later Bob Janiszewski called and gave me Hudson, just like that," McGreevey adds. But then the about-to-indicted Janiszewski flipped and came out for Torricelli.

That's when then-Congressman and current U.S. Sen. Menendez came to McGreevey's defense, threatening Janiszewski if he didn't back down, which he did, McGreevey writes.

And it was in 2003, while marching in the Bayonne St. Patrick's Day parade that McGreevey experienced something akin to a religious awakening, he writes.

Instead of being celebrated by his fellow Irish, he saw "disappointment in their eyes," McGreevey writes. It was then and there he decided to break with the political bosses. "For me it was an epiphany."

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