Top Giuliani Aide Rips Report That Former Mayor Buried Travel Expenses
11/29/2007 09:39 AM
In an interview on “Inside City Hall” Thursday, former Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota rips into Wednesday's Politico report that former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani tried to bury security expenses of his NYPD security detail in the budgets of other mayoral agencies.
Lhota insisted the accounting practice started in Giuliani’s first term and not when Giuliani’s affair with Judith Nathan was later underway as the Politico reported.
“This was not a coverup,” Lhota told NY1’s Sandra Endo.
The website Politico.com obtained records through a Freedom of Information Law request regarding nearly a dozen trips the mayor took between 1999 and 2001. The costs for that security were billed to seemingly unrelated departments like the Office for People With Disabilities.
Lhota repeatedly ripped the Politico story and its author, Ben Smith, saying Smith has “no ethical base.”
“This is not a coverup. If you wanted to hide something in the Office of the Mayor, you would have just automatically said, 'Police Department.’ You go get your credit card. You take care of this. You pay the credit card back. But it was not working out, they were not paying on a timely basis,” said Lhota. “The simple thing was to have the Office of the Mayor get a credit card and make these payments. Nothing was hidden, Sandy, nothing at all was hidden. This was all done above board. It's unfortunate."
"As the mayor said, the way the article was written on Politico.com, it was in fact using his words -- and those are my words as well -- it was an absolute hit job," continued Lhota. "It was not factual, it was not correct, it was a salacious article having to do with trips only to the Hamptons. It was just done as a hit job on the day of a debate by a reporter who should be very concerned about his reputation, because he's done some outrageous things during this presidential campaign. If you recall, this is the same reporter who actually said on the day that one of the Democratic candidate's wife announced she had cancer, he reported full page, full headline, that John Edwards was dropping out. This reporter has no ethical base whatsoever. He'll write anything, he'll say anything and it's really unfortunate that he gets some level of credibility. It's really unfortunate because he has none.”
The Politico's editor in chief defended its report.
"We gave the Giuliani campaign ample opportunity to dispute the story or comment on our reporting before publishing and they did not do so," said the editor in a statement. "Since the story ran, we have not heard from the campaign disputing any substantive aspect of the story."
Giuliani has denied allegations that he concealed the expenses to hide his affair with his now-wife, while he was still married to Donna Hanover. Giuliani said he had a security team with him around the clock because of multiple threats. He says he was not trying to conceal anything. He also questioned the timing of the report.
"All the billing is open, that's how you can find it. I thought the way the story was presented was kind of a hit job,” said Giuliani. “And coming two hours before this debate, I kind of got the sense it wasn't a legitimate story. It was a hit job."
The report left Giuliani vulnerable Wednesday in what turned out to be the most heated GOP presidential debate yet.
With the first primary votes to be cast in only a few weeks, Republican candidates wasted no time before attacking each other in the CNN-YouTube debate Wednesday night in Florida.
Giuliani, Romney Spar In GOP Presidential "You Tube" Debate
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