The Politico's Ben Smith is reporting that former New York Mayor and Republican Presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for travel expenses during his tenure as New York Mayor. Politico obtained documents on the brewing scandal via a Freedom of Information Law request.
Giuliani is denying the allegations.
According to the story, Giuliani charged a variety of city agencies, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants, for hundreds of thousands in expenses related to Rudy's travel to the Hamptons. When city auditors questioned the expenses, they were denied information by the mayor's office, citing "security" concerns.
The article stresses the link between the Hamptons trips and the Mayor's extra-marital relationship with Judith Nathan, his current wife. In my view, this is an attempt to "sex up" a story which otherwise poses more questions than it answers. Obviously, further investigation is warranted, and if the "sexy" angle gets it the attention it deserves, so be it. The facts around the dissolution of Rudy's second marriage have already had what impact they're going to have, although it can't be comfortable for Mr. Giuliani to have this in the news while he's trying to woo conservative voters in Iowa.
The use of the lofts agency is an uncomfortable reminder of another sex scandal, former N.Y.C. Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and erstwhile O.J. publisher Judith Regan's dalliances at an apartment that was intended for use by weary police and rescue workers at Ground Zero. With Hizzoner currently polling at 12 percent in Iowa, this cannot be welcome news to the Giuliani camp.
Of course, the greater impact of this story remains to be seen. If city officials continue to investigate this, it could be a major hit to Giuliani's status as the national front-runner.
This could be an important story. It's anybody's guess where an investigation of this will lead. I'll keep you posted.
Update: Anderson Cooper asked Giuliani about this story during the Youtube debate, and Giuliani essentially blamed his cops, saying, "They put in their records...I had nothing to do with their records...they were handled appropriately as far as I know."