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State Division of Motor Vehicles chief administrator B. Sue Fulton. (Photo: Sue Fulton.)

Fulton leaving motor vehicles to join Biden administration

New Jerseyan named Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs

By David Wildstein, April 23 2021 3:02 pm

The Biden administration has picked Sue Fulton, the embattled chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission, for a post at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Fulton was named as Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

That creates a new vacancy in Murphy’s cabinet seven months before the gubernatorial election, if Fulton is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Fulton will remain in her state post until the Senate confirms her.

It’s not immediately clear if Fulton will remain in state government until confirmation, or if she’s headed to the Pentagon on an acting basis.

Fulton’s nomination  was first reported by the Washington Post.

“President Biden has made a tremendous choice in his nomination of Sue Fulton to serve our nation as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs,” Murphy said.  “Our nation needs leaders who understand our global challenges and have the skills to empower and inspire our men and women in uniform.”

Fulton, 62, is a retired U.S. Army captain, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and was part of the first West Point class to admit women.  She became the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors when President Barack Obama nominated her in 2011.

“Sue has been a trailblazer since her days as part of the first West Point class to include women and, as a member of my Cabinet, I have relied upon her clear, calm, and flexible approach to serving the needs of millions of New Jerseyans during one of the most challenging times in memory,” stated Murphy.  “I know she will be the capable partner President Biden needs working alongside Secretary Austin at the Pentagon.”

In 2016, Fulton ran for Monmouth County freeholder.  She finished last, losing to Republican incumbents Tom Arnone and Serena DiMaso.  She lost by nearly 23,000 votes.

Fulton has faced severe criticism for massive delays at state motor vehicle offices since their post-Covid reopening last summer.  Several Republicans, including Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton), and GP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, had called for her ouster.

Ciattarelli thinks that Biden made a mistake in picking Fulton for the Defense Department post.

“Not sure we want someone who couldn’t run motor vehicles, helping to run the Pentagon,” the presumptive GOP candidate for governor said.

Almost daily, a state motor vehicles agency is closed due to an outbreak of COVID-19.

Fulton’s departure will now leave two executive branch vacancies on the State Ethics Commission, just days after appointing four new public members of the revamped panel.

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