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Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Grewal resigning to join SEC

Murphy will wait until after election to name successor

By David Wildstein, June 29 2021 1:45 pm

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal will announce his resignation today to take a position with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Grewal will become the Director of Enforcement on July 26.

“I’m honored and delighted to welcome Attorney General Grewal to the SEC,” said Gary Gensler, the SEC Chairman.  “He has had a distinguished career as New Jersey’s chief law enforcement officer and as a prosecutor at both the local and federal levels. He has the ideal combination of experience, values, and leadership ability to helm the Enforcement Division at this critical time. I look forward to working closely with him to protect investors and root out wrongdoing in our markets.”

Grewal is the second pick for the post since President Joe Biden took office in January.

In April, Alex Oh, a former federal prosecutor, was named to the post.  She lasted five days.

Gov. Phil Murphy will not nominate a permanent successor before the November 2 general election, allowing the Department of Law and Public Safety to be run by acting attorney general.

“The Governor will name an interim Attorney General this week to fill the remainder of the four-year term,” said Alyana Alfaro Post, a spokeswoman for Murphy.

First Assistant Attorney General Andrew Bruck is next line to replace Grewal, unless Murphy goes in a different direction.

This was likely to be Grewal’s last year as attorney general regardless of the outcome of the gubernatorial election.  The relationship Grewal and the governor’s office has become strained over the last year and a half and Murphy was widely expected to pick a new attorney general if he is re-elected.

The State Senate is set to go on recess later this week and may not return until after Election Day.

“Through his efforts standing up to the Trump administration’s attacks on New Jersey and our diverse communities, instituting historic reforms in policing, and leading the fight against gun violence, Attorney General Grewal has been an invaluable member of our administration and a dedicated public servant to the residents of New Jersey,” Murphy said.  “Though we’ll miss his leadership, I know he’s the right person to protect investors all across the nation, and I congratulate SEC Chair Gensler for this outstanding selection.“

It’s not unusual for a governor to skip a pre-election nomination for attorney general.

After then-Gov. Chris Christie appointed Attorney General Jeff Chiesa to the U.S. Senate in 2013, he didn’t make a permanent pick until after he was re-elected.  In the end, the Senate didn’t confirm a new attorney general until August 2016.

Grewal, 48, became  the first Sikh American to serve as a state attorney general in 2018.  He is a former Bergen County Prosecutor and Assistant U.S. Attorney.

“The Enforcement Division has a critical role to play in finding and punishing violations of the law,” said Grewal. “I’m excited to get to work with the talented team of public servants to uncover and prosecute misconduct and protect investors. I thank Governor Murphy for the opportunity to serve the people of New Jersey and all of the colleagues with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work during my career in the state.”

A former law clerk  to New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, Bruck spent five years at the U.S. Department of Justice and served as acting chief of staff to deputy attorney general Sally Yates.

Grewal’s new post is not subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

The SEC created the Division of Enforcement in 1972 to consolidate responsibilities that had been scattered among various departments.  Grewal’s primary focus is the investigation of federals securities law violations through civil suits.

This story was updated at 2:46 PM with comment from Gov. Phil Murphy and SEC Chairman Gary Gensler. 

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