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Gay ex-governor says he's too poor for alimony

The nation's first openly gay governor tried to convince the judge in his divorce case Wednesday that he's too poor to pay alimony.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The nation's first openly gay governor tried to convince the judge in his divorce case Wednesday that he's too poor to pay alimony, saying he's been financially crippled by his resignation and marital troubles.

Former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey said he has limited income and few assets, and is all but unemployable these days.

"I got my furnishings at a Huffman Koos going-out-of-business sale," McGreevey said when asked to describe his belongings.

He and his wife, Dina Matos McGreevey, have been separated since he left office in November 2004, three months after he said he had an affair with a male staffer and planned to resign. The staffer denies he had an affair with McGreevey and accused him of sexual harassment.

Financial fight over assets
The couple have agreed on custody of their only child, 6-year-old Jacqueline, but are fighting over alimony, child support, and how to divide their assets and liabilities.

Matos McGreevey is asking the court to award her alimony and additional money based on the contention that McGreevey committed marriage fraud. She says she was duped into marriage by a gay man who needed the cover of a wife to advance his political career.

McGreevey counters that his wife, whom he married in 2000, should have known he was gay and that for most of their marriage, she made more money than him.

He spent hours on the stand Wednesday detailing his jobs and sources of income.

"Because of this case, I have been financially crippled," he said.

He was expected to return to the stand Thursday morning.

Now an Episcopal seminary student, McGreevey, 50, said he owes a prior divorce lawyer at least $116,000 and has not paid his first ex-wife any child support this year. He said he relies on his boyfriend to pay legal bills and lifestyle expenses.

McGreevey acknowledged that he is indifferent to money and passed up opportunities to increase his income during his marriage by instead running for public office.

Before he took the stand, McGreevey lawyer Stephen Haller told the judge the ex-governor should not have to pay alimony to his wife because the couple's "short-term marriage" does not qualify for her for it. Haller accused Matos McGreevey, 41, of having an "emotional vendetta" against his client.

Joint book deal never worked out
Haller also said Dina Matos McGreevey's earnings exceeded her husband's during about half of their marriage.

John Post, who represents Dina Matos McGreevey, said it was "absurd" that the two partners had equal earnings, and said McGreevey is underestimating his earning potential.

Post noted that that McGreevey earned $429,000 in 2006 and $185,000 last year.

During his testimony, McGreevey said he proposed writing a tell-all book with his estranged wife, but she turned him down and later wrote her own memoir.

McGreevey said he was initially offered $1 million to write his life story shortly after leaving office in disgrace, but later signed a book contract for far less. He said his goal was not to make money, but to help gay and lesbian teenagers who might find the courage to live openly after reading about his life as a closeted gay man.

"It was about my failures, my sins," McGreevey said of his book, "The Confession."