Governor Chris Christie today announced the nomination of Richard E. Constable, III, currently Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, to succeed Commissioner Lori Grifa at the Department of Community Affairs.
Governor Christie said, “Lori Grifa has been a critical member of my cabinet and brought a new level of competence, leadership and accountability to a department vital in carrying out my agenda for good government and real accountability at the state level and particularly the municipal level. Commissioner Grifa has been indispensable in moving forward with reforms to eliminate the burden and costs associated with the Council on Affordable Housing and in the proper oversight and delivery of municipal aid and proper budgeting in our towns and cities. I thank her for her dedication to my Administration and to those and other government reforms.
“To continue those considerable duties at the Department of Community Affairs, I am pleased to announce my selection of another highly qualified individual – Rich Constable, someone who has worked with me for years and whom I have turned to many times for his leadership skills, integrity and friendship,” Governor Christie continued.
Grifa, who is returning to the private sector, is expected to leave her post as commissioner on January 2.
“It has been my great privilege to serve the citizens of New Jersey by helping Governor Christie bring greater accountability to state and local government, improve transparency and put the taxpayer first. Together, we have taken bold and decisive action on key reforms during these past two years and have ensured that government will work efficiently and effectively for the people,” said Grifa. “This has been the most interesting, challenging and important experience of my professional life and I always will be grateful for the opportunity to support the Governor’s agenda.”
At the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Constable, of Orange, has functioned as the chief operating officer for the 3,500-employee agency, managing day-to-day operations, including the major services of Unemployment Insurance, Workforce Development, Workplace Standards and Budget and Accounting. During his tenure, Constable established a Fraud and Risk Prevention Unit and hired a former FBI agent to serve as its first Director. Since April of this year, this new unit protected taxpayers against over $60 million in fraudulent Unemployment Insurance payments.
Constable also oversaw the Unemployment Division migration from paper unemployment insurance benefit checks to debit cards for all of New Jersey's unemployed residents that file for unemployment insurance benefits. Moving to debit cards saved New Jersey taxpayers approximately $8 million annually.
Governor Christie recruited Constable to his Administration from the United States Attorney’s Office, where Constable was an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 2002, last serving in the Special Prosecutions Division handling public corruption cases. Mr. Constable received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Michigan and his law degree and a masters in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
“Rich has been among my trusted advisors through the years and has proven a most capable individual in all that he pursues,” Governor Christie said. “I look forward to having him in this new, vital role, where I expect he will carry through with my government reform agenda with determination and skill.”
Constable’s nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.