Coniglio probe pushes Hodes to get a lawyer

Lobbyist Harold Hodes, a top advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in New Jersey and one of the state’s most powerful political insiders, has retained a prominent criminal defense attorney as part of the federal corruption probe of State Sen. Joseph Coniglio, according to several sources.

Public Strategies/Impact, Hodes’ firm, has represented Hackensack University Medical Center, which employed Coniglio as a plumbing consultant. The hospital received over $1 million in state grants while the Bergen County Democrat was on their payroll.

Hodes has not received a target letter from the U.S. Attorney’s office, according to people with knowledge of the Coniglio investigation, but is being represented by Justin Walder. Walder’s partner, Joseph Hayden, said his firm does not comment on who their clients are. Hodes did not return repeated phone calls to his office, home and cell phone over the last several weeks seeking comment.

Coniglio’s lawyer, Gerald Krovatin, also declined to comment on Hodes’ involvement in the federal probe. Federal prosecutors advised Coniglio that he was a target of a federal investigation related to the state budget last July.

Nearly forty leaders of Clinton’s New Jersey campaign were in Washington on Tuesday to meet with the Democratic presidential candidate, but Hodes was not in attendance. Clinton will address the New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s Annual Conference in Atlantic City on Friday.

Hodes, 65, served as Executive Assistant to Newark Mayor Kenneth Gibson before becoming Chief of Staff to Governor Brendan Byrne. He was the first President of the New Jersey Devils before starting his lobbying firm in the 1980’s.

Coniglio probe pushes Hodes to get a lawyer