New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie named New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa as the state’s new interim senator. Chiesa will fill the seat of the late Frank Lautenberg until residents elect a new Senator in a special election in October.
Chiesa made headlines last year when he concluded that the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslim communities in New Jersey did not violate state law:
According to reports, the NYPD has been conducting surveillance of Muslim communities in a number of states in the New England region. The NYPD has gathered information on cab drivers, street level food vendors, ethnic book stores, Internet cafes and even mosques — all without any evidence of wrongdoing.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) had described reports of NYPD surveillance in his state as “disturbing.” Three months ago, Chiesa launched a fact-finding review to determine whether any state laws had been broken. In a statement released Thursday, he said there was no evidence the NYPD violated New Jersey civil or criminal laws.
Governor Christie and other New Jersey law enforcement officials sought to do outreach to the Muslim community in the wake of criticism coming from Islamic interest groups after the surveillance controversy. Christie, along with Chiesa, visited several New Jersey mosques this year as part of that effort. One mosque in Paterson has an Imam that federal authorities have sought to deport, accourding to a February report from the Associated Press:
The Paterson mosque is led by an imam who federal authorities have been seeking to deport. Immigration officials have sought unsuccessfully to tie Mohammad Qatanani to Palestinian terrorist groups. Gov. Chris Christie and New Jersey law enforcement officials have long supported the imam.Qatanani is a member of Chiesa’s newly-formed Muslim outreach committee.
Mr. Chiesa served as Christie’s chief of staff from January 2010 through December 2011, when he was nominated to be New Jersey Attorney General. Christie said Chiesa does not plan to seek the Senate seat in October.