NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal stepping down to join SEC

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, the nation’s first Sikh state attorney general, is resigning to join the Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency and Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday.

Grewal departs July 26 after serving since January 2018 as the state’s top law enforcement officer. He will become the SEC’s director of the enforcement division, the agency announced in a statement.

Murphy, a Democrat, called Grewal and “invaluable member of our administration.”

In his new role, Grewal will be charged with pursuing violations of law for the SEC, which regulates the nation’s financial markets.

“The Enforcement Division has a critical role to play in finding and punishing violations of the law,” Grewal said in a statement. “I’m excited to get to work with the talented team of public servants to uncover and prosecute misconduct and protect investor.”

Grewal has been a high-profile attorney general, filing lawsuits for the state against former President Donald Trump’s administration, including on border separations, the environment and the Affordable Care Act.

His tenure included several high-profile changes.

His office put out guidance surrounding the passage of a constitutional amendment allowing recreational marijuana. The Department of Law and Public Safety, which he heads, unveiled a new use-of-force dashboard so the public can view when police use violence in the line of duty. In 2018, his office began bringing environmental lawsuits against alleged polluters again, for the first time in a decade; Grewal also began suing out-of-state gun retailers for sales in New Jersey that ran afoul of state law, while promoting the state’s new stricter gun control laws passed under Murphy’s administration. Also in 2018, he limited state law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities in a directive that drew a clear line between the responsibilities of New Jersey’s 36,000 law enforcement officers and federal immigration authorities.

Before becoming attorney general, Grewal was the Bergen County prosecutor, the top law enforcement office of New Jersey’s most populous county. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey. He was the head of the economic crimes unit from 2014 to 2016, overseeing major white collar and cyber crime prosecutions in the state.

Earlier he was an assistant U.S. Attorney in the criminal division of Eastern District of New York, and he was in in private practice from 1999-2004 and from 2008-2010.

It’s unclear who will succeed Grewal. Alyana Alfaro Post, Murphy’s spokesperson, said in an email that the governor would name an interim successor to serve the remainder of Grewal’s four-year term.

Murphy himself is up for reelection this year. His four-year term runs until January 2022.

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