Seven religious leaders urged lawmakers in the state to back former Assistant New Jersey Attorney General Lee Vartan to be New Jersey’s next U.S. attorney .
“National Action Network (NAN), the organization founded by civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, has worked closely with Lee Vartan for many years in New Jersey, and he has been directly involved with key issues we have championed relating to civil rights and social justice,” they said.
Vartan is one of seven current and former prosecutors who are considered serious candidates to become the state’s next U.S. attorney.
He was an assistant U.S. attorney for a little under four years, starting in 2007. He then joined former Gov. Chris Christie’s administration as assistant counsel before heading to the state attorney general’s office, where he was chief of staff. He became executive assistant attorney general in 2014 before returning to private practice later that year.
“We worked closely with Vartan when he served in the number two position in the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office where, alongside NAN and other community leaders, Vartan was instrumental in graduating the first majority-minority New Jersey State Police class in history,” the religious leaders said.
The religious leaders include: Pastors Steffie Bartley of the New Hope Baptist Church in Elizabeth; Pastor Johnnie Green of the Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem; Pastor Jerry Smith of the Transcend Worship Center in Irvington; Pastor Ameer Natson of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Newark; Pastor Orlando Vick of the Greater Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Newark, Reverend Anthony Hawthorne and Rabbi Abe Friedman.
The current acting U.S. Attorney is Rachael Honig. She assumed the post on January 5 following the resignation of Craig Carpenito.
Six others — Henry Klingeman, Jenny Kramer, Phil Sellinger, Jamel Semper, Ricardo Solano Jr. and Esther Suarez — are under consideration to fill New Jersey’s top federal law enforcement post.
“Vartan’s connections in New Jersey are deep-rooted in the community and we are confident in his ability to have the respect of both law enforcement and the community on day one,” the religious leaders said.