“Golan, I said I’d give it all up if you were with me. If we’re together as two individuals in love, that makes sense. But I’m not surrendering government for the sake of your job.”
In August, he finally agreed to resign. But almost immediately he began demanding his job back. He found me on my cell phone at all hours, interrupting everything from daybreak trips to the gym to late-night dinners with Drumthwacket staffers. He felt tricked into quitting, he said. I sometimes thought his desperate sadness was about losing me, about losing our love. But that was just self-flattery. I think he hated losing access to power.
It was after one of these calls that Dina confronted me. She had been putting Jacqueline to bed while I stood in the doorway, watching the two of them and listening to my former lover on the phone.
I had no reason to believe that Dina suspected my affair with Golan, or even the fact that I was gay. She probably already knew I didn’t love her anymore, not in the way a man loves his wife. Lately, what drove us forward had been little more than the momentum of a public life.
After we were safely out of Jacqueline’s earshot, she turned and glared at me.
“This whole thing is ridiculous,” she said.
I knew exactly what she meant. “What thing?” I asked anyway.
She walked back toward me, in the darkened hallway, until we were close enough for her to study my face. “Are you gay?”
I said nothing.
I don’t remember how I spent the early-morning hours of Friday, July 23, 2004. What I do remember is the expression of my chief of staff, Jamie Fox, when I arrived at the office. He looked like he’d just gotten news of a nuclear accident.
“We have a bit of a problem,” Jamie said. “Michael DeCotiis is on his way over.” Michael was our general counsel.
“What is it, Jamie?”
He looked at me brokenheartedly. “Michael got a call from a lawyer representing Golan. He’s suing for sexual assault and harassment, unless you pay $50 million.”
It was the other shoe I’d been waiting for. Golan would go public, on fantastically trumped-up charges, or try to extort a fortune from me to keep him quiet. Either way, since he could no longer be a part of my administration, apparently he’d decided to burn it to the ground.
In the weeks that followed, my friend and lawyer Bill Lawler had a series of bizarre meetings with Golan’s attorney, an entertainment lawyer named Allen Lowy.
Lowy hinted that Golan had claimed I sexually assaulted him in the back of a van on the way to Washington, D.C., before an audience of three state troopers—a ridiculous lie. I had never committed any sexual assault or harassment. This was only a love affair I never should have allowed myself, in a world that wouldn’t understand it, with a man who was betraying me.
“The governor is running for reelection, and this is life-and-death for him,” Lowy said to Bill. “The governor needs to pay my client for the damages he has suffered. And although we think we will get $50 million, we’ll take five.”
When Bill pressed for evidence of these charges, Lowy walked out of the meeting.
But Lowy wouldn’t take no for an answer. He wasn’t dissuaded by my lack of money, either, demanding that I reach out to my legendary fund-raising network to meet Golan’s demands.
From the first moments of this crisis, we considered going to federal law enforcement. But I was reluctant. I knew it would stop the extortion campaign, but once an official complaint was made, my heterosexual pretense was over. My story would land in the pantheon of messy love affairs—an entanglement so ill-fated that we needed cops to break it up.
With every passing day I felt my grip on Trenton growing more tenuous. It had begun to occur to me that I might not make it through this. No matter what happened, I knew I owed Dina an explanation. A couple of weeks after Golan threatened to sue, I sat down to talk to her in an elegant living room in the private wing which we rarely used. I took Dina’s hand. “I hadn’t planned this,” I told her. “It was broken off years ago. But he never let go. I want you to know how sorry I am. I beg you to forgive me.”
She was silent.
“We have talked this over a million ways, Dina. I may have to resign as governor.”
On her face she wore an inscrutable mask. When she finally spoke, she said with no trace of bitterness, “Where are we going to live?”