Much more about Roger Chugh!

Trenton appointee's Web site: Loves life and has brown eyes

Originally appeared in the Star Ledger on Thursday, March 28, 2002

BY JOSH MARGOLIN
Star-Ledger Staff

The Web site reads like something out of The Personals: "I am Roger Chugh, born in New Delhi, the capital city of India. I am 5'10" tall, with an ideal weight of 150 (pounds) which I maintained for several years. Today I am a little overweight at 165 (pounds). From my appearance – with my light complexion, brown eyes and dark hair – it is often thought that I am of Italian decent (sic). I love life, eenjoy Broadway shows, candle lit dinners, listening to music and going to basketball games."

But it's not The Personals. It's one of the main passages on www.rogerchugh.com, the Web site of Assistant Commissioner Roger Rajesh Chugh, the No. 3 official in the New Jersey State Department.

Chugh and his Web site have become the subject of whispering at the Statehouse, though no one has complained formally about it.

The site is loaded with photos showing Chugh posing with a long list of politicians, including Gov. James E. McGreevey, former President Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and New York Gov. George Pataki.


On the site, the 47-year-old Chugh (pronounced choog) describes himself as the "First Assistant Secretary of the State of New Jersey" and "The first Asian American (to hold the) constitutionally mandated office of Assistant Secretary of State of New Jersey."

Even if Chugh were an assistant secretary, which he is not, that post is not constitutionally mandated, said Albert Porroni, head of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services and counsel to the Legislature. And there simply is no such position as "first assistant secretary of state," Porroni said.

Chugh also describes himself as the "current Chairman of National Conference of Asian Americans for Political Awareness." When asked about that post, Chugh said the group is based in Bergen County, but said he did not have a phone number for it. The group has no telephone number listed and no Web site. Chugh's boss, Secretary of State Regena Thomas, and people familiar with Asian-Indian politics in America said they have never heard of the group.

"There is no such thing," said Suman Mozumder of Jersey City, a reporter with the Manhattan-based India Abroad newspaper.


Chugh declined comment.

"I'm not giving any interviews," Chugh said outside his Statehouse office.

The former travel agent and printer lives in Westchester County, N.Y. Chugh earns $85,000 and has no official job description with the New Jersey State Department, said spokesman Michael Kinney, except for doing whatever he is told to by Thomas.

"There are no set responsibilities," said Kinney, adding he did not have a copy of Chugh's résumé to release.

Thomas said Chugh is working on ethnic programs in her office and said she had not had time to look at his Web site.

"It's a personal site, not a government site," she said. "If I feel there's something less than what I expect from a member of this office, I might ask him" to alter the text.


A frequent visitor at Woodbridge Town Hall in recent years, while McGreevey was mayor, Chugh is one of the five ethnic-outreach people from the Governor's campaign to win top-dollar posts in the new administration.

Chugh, 47, served as the campaign's liaison to the state's burgeoning Asian-Indian community and earned about $120,000 last year for that work. He was paid by the Democratic State Committee, according to reports filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. Chugh also donated $3,000 to the Democratic organization in June 2000.

In addition to Chugh, the ethnic-outreach staffers now in the administration include: Thomas, the campaign's get-out-the-vote coordinator and McGreevey's key operative in the African-American community, who earns $137,165 as a Cabinet member; Jewish-community liaison Golan Cipel, a staffer now working as the Governor's special counselor for $110,000 a year; Lizette Delgado, the Hispanic-outreach coordinator who now serves as Thomas' No. 2 in the $90,000 post of assistant secretary of state; and Kellie Drakeford, the campaign's African-American vote director now earning $90,000 as deputy operations chief in the Governor's Office.

Return to the Roger Chugh Home Page