Christie Picks Interim NJ Guard Commander

Gov. Chris Christie has tapped an Air National Guard commander to lead New Jersey's National Guard until a permanent replacement is found

Gov. Chris Christie has tapped an Air National Guard commander to lead New Jersey's National Guard until a permanent replacement  is found for a top military official who resigned after he was caught having an inappropriate relationship with a female aide.

Effective Friday, Brigadier General Michael Cunniff, who since 2003 has been the 108th Air Refueling Wing Commander for the New Jersey Air National Guard, was in command.

The day before, the previous commander, Maj. Glenn Rieth, offered a final salute to the state's 9,000 soldiers and retired. Rieth left under pressure after he and the woman were seen inappropriately touching each other on Oct. 4 in his office by another employee. That resulted in a report being filed with the Army Inspector General at the Pentagon, according to government officials.

A military official with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press this week that Rieth did not give his resignation, however, until after he was told there was also surveillance video of him and the woman.

The two-star general waited until early November, nearly a month after the incident, before telling the governor's office about the encounter, according to another government official familiar with the situation.
The officials agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make those details public. Both officials indicated that the relationship between Rieth, who is married, and the woman, who is also married, was consensual.

Reached by phone, Rieth declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his departure, saying ``there would be no value in it.''

Spokesmen for Military and Veterans Affairs have not responded to multiple calls and emails seeking comment since The Associated Press was first to report Rieth's resignation.

Originally, Rieth told subordinates that Brigadier General James J. Grant serves would handle military affairs, and veteran issues would be overseen by Raymond Zawacki, the deputy commissioner for Veterans Affairs.

`The choice of an interim successor was the governor's prerogative. He was not obliged to follow an old succession plan,'' said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak. ``This is the governor's choice pending a nomination for a permanent successor.''


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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