Big staff shake-up in gov's office

Then governor-elect Chris Christie, center at podium, and Lt. governor-elect Kim Guadagno, second left, listen to a question in November 2009 as they introduce the co-chairmen of their transition team's budget and taxes committee, Richard Bagger, left and Robert Grady, right. Bagger became Christie's chief of staff and announced his resignation today. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Gov. Christie held a press conference this morning to announce a number of major changes to his senior staff. Christie stayed in his comfort zone in naming replacements, drawing heavily from the attorneys who worked for him when he was U.S. Attorney.


  • Chief of Staff Rich Bagger, a former state senator, will return to the private sector to take a top position at Celgene Corporation.
  • Deputy Chief Counsel Kevin O'Dowd, who worked with Christie as a prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's Office, becomes the chief of staff. He is married to Health Comissioner Mary O'Dowd.
  • Director of Homeland Security and Preparedness Charles McKenna, another former Christie colleague at the U.S. Attorney's Office, will be Christie's chief counsel. McKenna replaces Jeff Chiesa, who will become Attorney General. McKenna's replacement has yet to be named. 
  • Deborah Gramiccioni, a former prosecutor whom I profiled here in her capacity as head of the Authorities Unit, will become Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, replacing Wayne Hasenbalg, who goes on to lead the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Regina Egea, chief of staff to the treasurer, takes over as head of the Authorities Unit. 
  • Paul Matey, the governor's senior counsel and another former lawyer at the U.S. Attorney's Office, becomes deputy chief counsel.


The moves coincide with other recent changes in the cabinet, including the departure of Attorney General Paula Dow to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (and eventually a judgeship). Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon, who left to return to the bench in Camden County, was replaced by Robert Hanna. Department of Community Affairs Lori Grifa left to return to practicing law; she was replaced by Rich Constable. And Maj. Glenn Rieth, head of the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, recently resigned after he was seen having sexual contact with a female aide. He was replaced by Brig. Gen. Michael Cunniff.