Maureen McMahon is the new executive director of the non-partisan New Jersey Office of Legislative Services, the four legislative leaders from both parties jointly announced today.
She will replace Peri Horowitz, who was fired in January as part of a bi-partisan move to overhaul OLS.
Lawmakers had cited negative interactions with the senior staff and dissatisfaction with their work as the cause of Horowitz’s termination. Over the last few years, legislative leaders have become concerned with a growing number of “clean-up bills” needed to repair deficiencies in original legislation.
The legislative counsel, Jason Krajewsi, was also replaced as part of the shakeup. His successor is Gabriel Neville, who has worked at OLS since 2002, the legislative leadership said.
“The work of OLS is vital to the lawmaking process and to the success of the Legislature in serving the people of New Jersey,” said Senate President Nicholas Scutari.
Horowitz and Krajewsi had both joined OLS in 2015. Horowitz had worked at the New York City Campaign Finance Board and Krajewsi served in the U.S. Coast Guard, where he served as deputy legal counsel in the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
McMahon has worked for OLS for to decades and has been the acting executive director since January.
“I am honored and humbled by the support of the Legislative Services Commission my appointment as Executive Director of the Office of Legislative Services,” McMahon stated. “I look forward to serving the Legislature in this capacity and continuing to work with the dedicated and talented staff at OLS.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin praised McMahon and Neville, who were hired after a national search.
“Drawing on years of experience, they come with a deep understanding of how to help legislators represent their constituents and I am confident that under their leadership OLS will continue to help citizens not only benefit from, but also engage with the work of our Legislature,” said Coughlin.
In the past, the executive director post had been held by legends: Albert Porroni worked for the Office of Legislative Services for 42 years until his retirement in 2014; and Samuel A. Alito, Sr., the father of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice, worked for OLS for 31 years and was Porroni’s predecessor.
The office historically had the respect of both parties, but Gov. Chris Christie began to criticize OLS as a tool of Democratic legislative leaders. He had dubbed the OLS budget officer, David Rosen, as the “Dr. Kevorkian of Numbers.”
Republicans also applauded the new appointments.
“We need strong and knowledgeable leadership in the Office of Legislative Services to ensure that the agency fulfills its nonpartisan mission of helping the Legislature to serve the public effectively,” said Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho. “Maureen and Gabe have decades of experience under the dome during which they have proven themselves capable and earned the trust of Republicans and Democrats alike.”
Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio said that “both parties came together to ensure that they will meet the demands and challenges of the job.”
“As lawmakers, we rely on their expertise to develop effective policy that affects each and every resident of New Jersey,” DiMaio noted. “ I trust Maureen and Gabe, who both have two decades of experience and proven records of success, are the right fit for these very important positions.”
The Legislative Services Commission, which runs OLS, is made up of sixteen members: four Democrats and four Republicans from the Senate and four Democrats and four Republicans from the Assembly.