Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mr. Giuliani’s Friend

TPMmuckraker has the list of everything that Bernard Kerik, the former New York City Police Commissioner and, briefly, nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, has been indicted for.

Bribery. Accepted $255,000 worth of renovations to his apartment in an upscale section of the Bronx from a mob-connected construction company, Interstate Industrial Corporation, that sought his help in winning city contracts. Kerik was Commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections at the time. He already admitted to charges from city prosecutors that the payments constituted an illegal gift.

Tax fraud. Kerik failed to report $236,269 in rent for his Upper East Side apartment where he lived from December 2001 to December 2003 with his family. One of the city’s biggest real estate developers, Steve Witkoff, paid the $9,650 in monthly rent. Kerik asked for Witkoff’s help with the apartment while he was still police commissioner of NYC, and the real estate mogul made the payments because the two “anticipated doing business in the future.”

More tax fraud. Kerik also failed to disclose $20,000 in consulting fees from a computer software company and $75,953 in advances for writing his autobiography.

Even more tax fraud. Kerik failed to report his wages to his nanny (more about that below), claimed $80,000 in phony charitable contributions, and falsely claimed a home office deduction for a home he had not moved into yet.

False statements. Lied on application for head of Department of Homeland Security about the nanny, payments from the construction company, and other things he preferred to keep quiet.

And there’s lots more where that came from, including gifts from friends with mob ties and, when he was Police Commissioner, sending NYPD detectives out to search for articles such as jewelry, credit cards, and a cell phone that were believed to have been stolen from his mistress. It turns out that the necklace was at the bottom of her other purse, the credit card had been left at a drugstore, and the cell phone was found in the trash. (Imagine what Det. Lennie Briscoe would have said if he and Det. Ed Green had been sent on that turd hunt.)

When asked about the indictments, the Giuliani campaign basically said, “Bernie who? We hardly know the guy.”

Asked if Giuliani was reluctant to completely disassociate himself from Kerik because of his protege’s role in helping establish that law-and-order record, [Randy] Mastro [former Giuliani chief of staff] minimized Kerik’s relevance to what has become a central element of the former mayor’s campaign.

“Rudy Giuliani was mayor for eight years, and he reduced crime everyone of those eight years, including last of those which was one year Bernie Kerik served as police commissioner,” Mastro said.

Kerik served in the Corrections Department for over five years of Giuliani’s term, before becoming police commissioner from August of 2000 through the end of 2001, when Giuliani left office. But Kerik and Giuliani were personally close and the two worked together after the former mayor went into the private sector. In 2004, of course, Giuliani pushed hard to get Kerik nominated as head of DHS, praising his record and touting his role in New York.

As for the political fallout of the indictment, Mastro dismissed today’s charges as “old news.” Asked if there was the potential for any new information to emerge from the case that could be damaging, Mastro said he doesn’t think “this is something that will have any effect on the campaign.”

With friends like that… It makes you wonder about the judgment of Mr. Giuliani to have someone like that around him, despite his campaign’s attempt to distance him from such a player. But then, in the GOP, that sort of thing is par for the course. Remember Enron’s Ken Lay — or “Kenny Boy,” as President Bush used to call him? So I guess if you’re going to evaluate a Republican presidential candidate based on the friends and associates they have in trouble with the law, Mr. Giuliani is right on track.

The New York Times has a backgrounder on Mr. Kerik for those of you unfamiliar with his role in the Giuliani administration and his place in NYC politics.