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Why New Jersey investment boss Bob Grady just stepped down

Bob Grady, former chairman of the NJ Investment CouncilBob Grady, former chairman of the NJ Investment Council
Bob Grady, former chairman of the NJ Investment Council

Bob Grady today stepped down as chairman of the New Jersey Investment Council, which oversees investments for the state’s $81 billion public employees. He is a longtime friend and political ally of Gov. Chris Christie, and has served in the position on a volunteer basis since 2010.

Grady sent Christie a resignation letter over the weekend, and informed the broader Investment Council this morning during its regularly-scheduled monthly meeting. The Council members then unanimously approved a resolution thanking Grady for his service. Among those voting ‘aye’ on the resolution was a Council rep from the AFL-CIO, which recently filed an ethics complaint against Grady.

Vice chairman Tom Byrne, an investment professional and former head of the New Jersey Democratic Party, has assumed the chairmanship, at least on an interim basis.

Grady has been under some press scrutiny for alleged conflicts of interest involving investments in private equity and hedge funds, but there is no evidence that his resignation is related to those issues. Instead, it seems to be based on a confluence of three factors:

1. Grady never intended to still be doing the job: This was originally done as a favor to Christie, with the understanding that Grady would serve only for one term. But he agreed to stay on longer, in part to help find an investment department head after Tim Walsh unexpectedly quit last August. A successor, Chris McDonough, was formally named to the post this past March.

2. Family matters: A member of Grady’s immediate family has been dealing with a serious health issue, thus making it more difficult for him to regularly travel to Trenton (Grady has lived in Wyoming for several years, and was rumored to have been considering a U.S. Senate run had Sen. Mike Enzi not opted for reelection).

3. Business timing: Grady, who made his investment bones with The Carlyle Group (CG), currently is a managing director with Denver-based private equity firm Cheyenne Capital. That firm is in the process of determining if it will raise another fund in early 2015, which is another way of saying that folks like Grady must decide if they want to make another 10-year commitment. One complicating factor could be whether or not Chris Christie plans to run for president, since Grady likely would be involved (even if from afar). In short, Grady seems to have cleared the deck in order to examine all of his future options.

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