Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael L. Cunniff, who has served as acting adjutant general of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the National Guard since Dec. 16, was appointed full head of the agency and guard Monday by Gov. Chris Christie.
And Ken Kobylowski, acting director of banking and chief of staff with the state Department of Banking and Insurance was named full commissioner, replacing Tom Considine, who is resigning Feb. 10 to return to the private sector.
“I am proud today to nominate Brigadier General Cunniff as New Jersey’s next adjutant general, making permanent his leadership of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs,” Christie said at a Statehouse press conference. “Over the past month, General Cunniff has impressed me with his effective leadership of the department and its operations. I’m pleased he has agreed to continue that service and leadership to the people of this state as adjutant general.”
Cunniff replaced Maj. Gen. Glenn Rieth, the National guard commander since 2002, after he resigned as of Dec. 15 after being discovered having inappropriate relations with a married female aide in his Lawrence office in November.
Rieth, 54, of Ewing, guided the state’s National Guard soldiers and air personnel through their ongoing roles in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is a childhood friend of Gov. Chris Christie. Rieth offered his resignation and Christie accepted it.
Prior to Dec. 16, Cunniff served as the 108th Air Refueling Wing commander of the state Air National Guard. In that capacity, he was responsible for two flying units and the command of more 1,300 members in over 25 support units.
Cunniff entered the Air Force in July 1982, and was commissioned through the Academy of Military Science in October 1983. He received his pilot's wings at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, in 1983. Cunniff has served in many operations including Operations Northern Watch, Joint Forge, Allied Force, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Kobylowski, will replace Considine when he leaves to join MagnaCare, a health plan services company, as chief operating officer.
“New Jersey's insurance regulatory climate and reputation in the banking sector have improved considerably because of the work of Tom Considine,” Christie said. “Under Tom’s leadership, the department was a model for bringing private sector metrics and performance management to state government. In just two years, 59 new insurers have come into New Jersey while 64 others have expanded their authority.”
“At the same time, I am pleased to announce my nomination of Ken Kobylowski to succeed Tom and continue the important work at the department,” the governor said. “Ken is a person of considerable talent, expertise and accomplishment, who has been instrumental every single day in the department’s successes over the last two years in his capacity as chief of staff. I thank him for taking on this new challenge and have no doubt he will build on DOBI’s strong record of the last two years.”
"When the governor named me commissioner in January 2010, I said that we would hang out a sign saying New Jersey is open for business for financial services companies,” Considine said. “I am proud of the achievements and inroads the department has made in bringing a seismic cultural change that promotes growth in the banking and insurance industries as demonstrated by our repeal or scale-back of 21 burdensome regulations, as well as the reduction of our new product review and approval time by up to 58 percent.”
Kobylowski, a lawyer, joined Banking and Insurance as chief of staff in February 2010 and took on the additional role as acting director of Banking in October. He serves as the chief operating officer for the department with full responsibility for all legislative, regulatory, operational and administrative matters. He also serves as the department’s liaison with other State departments and federal agencies, notably the Federal Reserve and the FDIC.
Prior to joining the department, Kobylowski was in private law practice for 20 years, in Roseland, New York City and Newark. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Seton Hall University and a cum laude graduate of New York Law School.