While there have been fifteen U.S. Senators in American history who became President, only Warren Harding and John F. Kennedy went directly to the White House from the Senate.
Americans seem to want to see some kind of executive/management ability in their president typically, and thus all politics and political affiliations aside, candidates like Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Bill Richardson, and Rudy Giuliani have something in their portfolio a bit different than those who vote but don’t get the frills and problems of the buck stopping with them — like Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Fred Thompson, and Ron Paul.
But for those who were governors or generals, the spotlight will then go to how did they actually perform as chief executives, and were there any shenanigans that raise serious doubts about competence, self-dealing, or blurry ambiguities that simply ought not to be there.
Ben Smith and Politico have discovered under a Freedom of Information Act inquiry some material exposing Rudy Giuliani’s bureaucratic technique of hiding and/or billing travel and security expenses incurred during a marital affair within what appear to be inappropriate agencies in New York.
Read the whole article, but here’s the core of what’s at issue:
As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.
The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.
At the time, the mayor’s office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing “security.”
The Hamptons visits resulted in hotel, gas and other costs for Giuliani’s New York Police Department security detail.
Giuliani’s relationship with Nathan is old news now, and Giuliani regularly asks voters on the campaign trail to forgive his “mistakes.”
It’s also impossible to know whether the purpose of all the Hamptons trips was to see Nathan. A Giuliani spokeswoman declined to discuss any aspect of this story, which was explained in detail to her earlier this week.
But the practice of transferring the travel expenses of Giuliani’s security detail to the accounts of obscure mayoral offices has never been brought to light, despite behind-the-scenes criticism from the city comptroller weeks after Giuliani left office.
The expenses first surfaced as Giuliani’s two terms as mayor of New York drew to a close in 2001, when a city auditor stumbled across something unusual: $34,000 worth of travel expenses buried in the accounts of the New York City Loft Board.
When the city’s fiscal monitor asked for an explanation, Giuliani’s aides refused, citing “security,” said Jeff Simmons, a spokesman for the city comptroller.
But American Express bills and travel documents obtained by Politico suggest another reason City Hall may have considered the documents sensitive: They detail three summers of visits to Southampton, the Long Island town where Nathan had an apartment.
Auditors “were unable to verify that these expenses were for legitimate or necessary purposes,” City Comptroller William Thompson wrote of the expenses from fiscal year 2000, which covers parts of 1999 and 2000.
The letter, whose existence has not been previously reported, was also obtained under the Freedom of Information Law.
I maintain my view that Romney would be a more formidable candidate for any of the Dems than Giuliani — though a good number of Dems disagree with me.
However, I think that these kinds of shenanigans during Giuliani’s term would help fill in the long, tedious months between February 6, 2008 and election day.
— Steve Clemons