Rich Constable

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Richard E. Constable III is an American lawyer who was the 16th Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, serving from 2012 to 2015. A former Assistant US Attorney, he was also the Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Rich Constable
Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs
In office
Appointed byChris Christie
Preceded byLori Grifa
Succeeded byCharles Richman
Personal details
Richard E. Constable III
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceSouth Orange, New Jersey[1]
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
University of Pennsylvania Law School

Early life and educationEdit

Constable was raised in East Orange, New Jersey, and graduated from Seton Hall Preparatory School. He attended the University of Michigan, where he was awarded a Harry S. Truman Scholarship,[2] and graduated magna cum laude in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.[3] In 1997, he received his law degree and Master of Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.


After graduating from law school, Constable clerked for Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Alan Page. Constable then worked as a litigation associate with Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York City from 1998 to 2002. Subsequently, he was hired by Chris Christie as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark. For eight years, Constable represented the United States in criminal matters including public corruption, government, tax, and mortgage fraud. He investigated and prosecuted high-profile elected and appointed officials including US senators, state assemblymen, and mayors charged with bribery and extortion.[4][5][6][7]

In 2010, he left the U.S. Attorney's office to join the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development as Deputy Commissioner, where he managed the daily operations.[8] Along with Commissioner Harold J. Wirths, Constable implemented several administrative and programmatic reforms to streamline the efficiency of the department. Constable was also an adjunct professor at Rutgers School of Law–Newark and Fordham Law School in New York.[9] In 2011 he was appointed Commissioner of the NJ Department of Community Affairs by Governor Christie. As commissioner, Constable chaired the Council on Affordable Housing, the Interagency Council on Homelessness, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, and the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.[10][11]

Constable resigned as commissioner in 2015 and joined the private sector.[12][13]

Commissioner of NJ Department of Community AffairsEdit

On November 21, 2011, Governor Chris Christie announced that he chose Constable to join his cabinet as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), and replace incumbent Commissioner Lori Grifa. Christie stated that Constable was "someone who has worked with me for years and whom I have turned to many times for his leadership skills, integrity and friendship."[14] Constable was unanimously confirmed, by the NJ State Senate, as DCA Commissioner in 2012.[15] Constable, a lifelong Democrat, said of working in the Christie Administration, "I'm not working for a Republican governor, I'm working for Chris Christie, a man I've known for years, a friend."[16] When Constable stepped down in March 2015, he was succeeded by Charles Richman.[17]

Council on Affordable HousingEdit

As DCA Commissioner, Constable was the chair of the NJ Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). COAH met April 30, 2014, and voted 5–1 to adopt proposed new guidelines that govern municipal and contractor obligations to provide affordable housing in the state as mandated by the New Jersey Supreme Court in a January 2014 ruling.[18] The proposed rules called for roughly 110,000 affordable housing units to be added across the state between 2014 and 2024.

Hurricane SandyEdit

On Monday, October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused unprecedented damage to New Jersey's housing, business, infrastructure, health, social service and environmental sectors.[19] Immediately following the storm, Governor Christie selected Commissioner Constable and DCA as the lead agency in providing Sandy-displaced families with temporary and permanent housing options. The DCA was entrusted to administer billions in federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to support efforts to rebuild homes, businesses, and infrastructure.[20]

In 2013, the DCA engaged Hammerman & Gainer Inc. (HGI) to administer the federally funded, $1.2 billion Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program, which gives grants of up to $150,000 to homeowners to repair and rebuild homes damaged by Sandy. HGI's $68 million bid was $127 million lower than Tetra Tech, the only other bidder.[21] "It would have been fiscally irresponsible for the state to take the higher bidder," said Constable.[22] The $68 million contract was originally meant to run from 2013 to 2016,[23] but in December 2013 was revised to end in January 2014.[24][25][26] Initially, the RREM program had problems, leading to complaints from some applicants and Democratic lawmakers.[27] Constable cited HGI's "performance problems" and noted several months of "corrective action" by DCA.[28] HGI's bills totaled $51 million.[26] It was paid $36 million,[29] and $15 million was subject to an arbitration dispute.[30] The DCA subsequently retained ICF International to perform work previously assigned to HGI. At a New Jersey Assembly Budget Committee hearings, in April 2014, Constable said "the good news is that we're at a place now where the concerns that were widely publicized don't exist anymore."[31]


  1. ^ "About the Commissioner". NJ Department of Community Affairs. February 24, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  2. ^ 07 — Truman Scholars Association. (May 7, 2010). Archived July 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Department of Labor and Workforce Development | About the Deputy Commissioner Archived July 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. (February 16, 2012).
  4. ^ Whelan, Jeff (April 29, 2008). "Guttenberg mayor, wife found guilty of extortion, tax charges".
  5. ^ Ryan, Joe (January 20, 2010). "Passaic County councilwoman pleads guilty to disability fraud".
  6. ^ Ryan, Joe (September 22, 2009). "Ex-Linden housing official sentenced to 5 years in prison for bid-rigging scheme".
  7. ^ Ryan, Joe (January 21, 2010). "East Orange code official admits taking bribes for building permits".
  8. ^ About the Deputy Commissioner.
  9. ^ Richard Constable. Fordham Law. Archived December 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "September 13, 2010 – Governor Chris Christie Files Appointments". Office of the Governor. September 13, 2010. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  11. ^ State Ethics Commission | Members. (March 15, 2012). Archived November 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Johnson, Brett (March 23, 2015). "Christie's community affairs commissioner set to leave". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  13. ^ "Wyndham Worldwide Appoints Richard Constable to Corporate Counsel and Government Relations Leadership Position" (Press release). March 23, 2015. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  14. ^ Christie Nominates Deputy Labor Commissioner To Take Over Department Of Community Affairs. (November 21, 2011).
  15. ^ State Community Affairs chief Lori Grifa to be replaced by Deputy Labor Commissioner Richard . (November 21, 2011). (November 21, 2011). Retrieved on June 21, 2014. Archived November 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Sitting Next to the Leader: Richard Constable ('97), Deputy Commissioner, Department of Labor, State of New Jersey". Fels Institute of Government. April 27, 2011. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  17. ^ "Top NJ Official in Superstorm Sandy Housing Recovery Effort Steps Down". North Jersey.
  18. ^ O'Dea, Colleen (May 1, 2014). "COAH Votes to Propose New Rules Virtually Sight Unseen". NJ Spotlight. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  19. ^ Testimony of Hon. Richard E. Constable, III Commissioner, Department of Community Affairs. Hearing of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. April 15, 2013
  20. ^ Waldron, Kelly (June 12, 2013). "Sandy-Impacted Communities Get $31 Million Boost". New Jersey 101.5 – Proud to be New Jersey – New Jersey News Radio. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  21. ^ Haddon, Heather (September 22, 2013). "Sandy Contractor Draws Fire in Home-Reconstruction Effort HGI Also Faced Criticism for Its Katrina Work". The Wall Street Joutnal. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  22. ^ Jordan, Bob (February 25, 2014). "NJ may face legal action from fired Sandy contractor". The Asbury Park Press. Retrieved August 2, 2014. Constable noted that HGI's bid price of $68 million over three years was the biggest factor in deciding the award. The only other bidder, Tetra Tech, asked for nearly three times more money. "It would have been [fiscally] irresponsible for the state to take the higher bidder," he said.
  23. ^ "A83958 Hammerman and Gainer" (PDF). State of New Jersey Procurement Bureau. May 8, 2013. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  24. ^ Katz, Matt (January 23, 2014). "Christie's Biggest Sandy Contractor Fired Homeowners, Legislators Had Bitter Complaints About Firm". WNYC. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  25. ^ Hanna, Maddie (January 26, 2014). "N.J. terminates Sandy recovery contractor". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  26. ^ a b O'Neill, Erin (February 26, 2014). "Housing recovery firm billed NJ $51M for less than 8 months of Sandy work". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  27. ^ Haddon, Heather (September 22, 2013). "Sandy Contractor Draws Fire in Home-Reconstruction Effort HGI Also Faced Criticism for Its Katrina Work". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  28. ^ Mulvihill, Geoff (February 26, 2014). "N.J. Official: Sandy Contractor Ousted Over Performance". Insurance Journal.
  29. ^ Delli, Angela (April 7, 2014). "NJ paid fired Sandy contractor $36M". Business Week. Retrieved July 20, 2014. Because the severance is being negotiated, and could wind up in litigation, Constable declined to discuss details of the contract termination. But he did say the decision to end the agreement was mutual and followed months of attempts at corrective action
  30. ^ Tanfani, Joseph (June 21, 2014). "Since Sandy, a storm pattern of costly stumbles in New Jersey". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  31. ^ Sudol, Karen (April 7, 2014). "N.J. officials defend Sandy aid distribution, say problems have been fixed". The Record. Retrieved July 28, 2014.