Giuliani Straining to Defend Himself on Hamptons Trysts

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 10:09 AM EST

RudyWingman.jpg By now you may have heard yesterday's big news, other than the fact that the Republicans smacked each other something vicious on CNN. When Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani took trips to the Hamptons to visit his then-mistress and now-wife Judith Nathan and billed the tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses to obscure New York City agencies like the Loft Board. Giuliani was still married to his second wife at the time. Also billed to small agencies were expenses for campaign trips during Giuliani's aborted 2000 Senate campaign and trips to Los Angeles for his then-wife Donna Hanover. The full, sordid details are available at Politico.

What's less well known is that Giuliani is having a hell of a time explaining himself.

At the debate yesterday, Giuliani pinned the blame on the cops who were assigned to protect him. "They put in their records. They handled them in the way they handled them. I had nothing to do with the handling of their records," he said.

In the Politico story, a Giuliani campaign aide said the problem was due to "accounting."

On a CBS News follow up, the campaign said "this is common practice." A top aide named Tony Carbonetti told the media "these were all legitimate expenses."

But Carbonetti seemed to reverse himself later, saying that he had ordered an investigation.

In 2001 and 2002, Giuliani handled this differently. When city auditors questioned the expenses, the Mayor's staff refused to provide them by citing "security."

The Giuliani campaign clearly was not prepared for this, meaning that the former mayor's New York City staff, who has been dealing with questions over this behind the scenes for over five years, chose not to brief them. Or the campaign's research department didn't ask the right questions. Or Giuliani himself didn't tell them to look into it.

No matter what, though, Giuliani had better figure out what his position is, because every time he takes a new stance, he extends the story through another news cycle. And this is so damaging, he'll want it to go away as soon as possible. If it ever does, and here's betting it doesn't.

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