Saturday, July 22, 2006

Farber - Courier - AG sets out to defend conduct

Published in the Courier News, Saturday, July 22, 2006

AG Farber sets out to defend conduct

Top law enforcement official seeks to quell storm of boyfriend's traffic stop.

The Associated Press

TRENTON -- It was the costliest traffic ticket Zulima V. Farber never got.

By coming to the aid of her live-in boyfriend, New Jersey's attorney general has put herself in the eye of a storm, defending herself against questions about whether she influenced police officers who had pulled over his vehicle. Now, she's embarking on a round of media appearances aimed at getting her side of the story out -- and limiting the political fallout.

"Farber wants to counter media reports and quell lawmakers in both parties who are calling for her resignation," said David Rebovich, director of the Rider Institute for New Jersey Politics.

On May 26, police in Fairview stopped Hamlet Goore's minivan at a seat belt checkpoint. He called Farber, who was driven to the site in her state car. The minivan, it turned out, had an expired registration.

Police were arranging to tow it until Farber arrived. Ultimately, they let Goore drive it back to the North Bergen home he shares with Farber, the state's first Hispanic attorney general. Goore updated his registration that day but later received a court notice that he had not paid a ticket for letting it lapse.

Farber, 61, says she did nothing to influence the officers.

That she would put herself in a position to be accused of doing so, however, has surprised many in New Jersey, given her own driving record.

She has had 12 speeding tickets, four bench warrants issued for her and three license suspensions. The spotty record was enough to prompt former Gov. James E. McGreevey to drop her as a potential nominee to the state Supreme Court in 2003.

Goore, 65, has had similar problems. He has had his license suspended 11 times for offenses from excessive parking tickets to driving without insurance.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine's chief counsel has appointed retired Judge Richard Williams as special prosecutor to examine Farber's role in the incident. Farber, in turn, has hired Gerald Krovatin, a defense attorney and well-known Democrat.

Farber went on the offensive this week trying to shore up support on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to hold hearings on the incident once Williams' investigation is completed. On Friday, she spoke with New Jersey Network public television and has scheduled several interviews with print media, including The Associated Press, at her office today.

"I did nothing wrong when I went to the aid of a loved one," Farber told Michael Aron, the host of NJN's "On the Record" show, which airs Sunday morning.

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Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.