Sunday-show discussions of Giuliani billing issue ignored that affair reportedly created increased cost for NYC taxpayers

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, and Chris Wallace each discussed a Politico article that reported: "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." But, at no point during these segments did any of the hosts or guests note that Giuliani was having an extramarital affair with Nathan - whom they described merely as his girlfriend -- and that, because of the affair, New York City taxpayers were reportedly paying for both her protection and that of Giuliani's estranged wife.

On December 2, MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace both discussed a November 28 Politico article that reported: "As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani [R] 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." But neither Matthews nor Wallace noted that Giuliani was having an extramarital affair with Nathan -- characterized by both simply as Giuliani's girlfriend -- and that, because of the affair, New York City taxpayers were reportedly paying for both her protection and that of Giuliani's estranged wife. Indeed, a January 2001 New York Post article reported that taxpayers were footing the bill for Nathan's "12 hours a day, seven days a week" security in addition to Giuliani's then-wife Donna Hanover's "round-the-clock police protection." The Post estimated that the security provided for Nathan "could end up costing city taxpayers at least $200,000 a year." Moreover, Matthews and Wallace simply referred to Nathan as Giuliani's "then-girlfriend, now wife," without noting that, at the time, Giuliani was married to Hanover. Similarly, during the same day's broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert brought up the billing issue during a panel discussion and also did not note that Giuliani was married to Hanover at the time he was engaging in "trysts" with Nathan. By contrast, on ABC's This Week, host George Stephanopoulos noted that "the New York City police were paying for security for his girlfriend ... and his wife at the same time."

On May 10, 2000, Giuliani announced his separation from Hanover during a press conference. At the time, Giuliani described Nathan as "a very good friend." Giuliani and Hanover's divorce was finalized in July 2002, and in November 2002, Giuliani proposed to Nathan. The couple married on May 24, 2003.

On November 28, the Politico reported:

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.

ABCNews.com blog The Blotter further reported that Giuliani's affair resulted in an "expanded ... budget for" his "security detail at the time":

Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.

"She used the PD as her personal taxi service," said one former city official who worked for Giuliani.

New York papers reported in 2000 that the city had provided a security detail for Nathan, who became Giuliani's third wife after his divorce from Donna Hanover, who also had her own police security detail at the same time.

The former city officials said Giuliani expanded the budget for his security detail at the time. Politico.com reported yesterday that many of the security expenses were initially billed to obscure city agencies, effectively hiding them from oversight.

The former officials told ABCNews.com the extra costs involved overtime and per diem costs for officers traveling with Giuliani to secret weekend rendezvous with Nathan in the fashionable Hamptons resort area on Long Island.

Indeed, as early as 2001, print outlets reported that both Nathan and Hanover were being provided taxpayer-funded security. For instance, The New York Post reported on January 12, 2001:

Mayor Giuliani's complicated love life could end up costing city taxpayers at least $200,000 a year.

The NYPD has two detectives guarding the mayor's "very good friend" Judith Nathan 12 hours a day, seven days a week, The Post has learned.

Her security detail was upped from one to two detectives about two weeks ago after a New Yorker recognized her on the street, walked up to her and casually said, "Hey, I know you. You're the mayor's girlfriend."

[...]

In addition to Nathan, Giuliani's estranged wife, Donna Hanover, and their two children each has round-the-clock police protection.

Nathan got police security last year after her relationship with Giuliani became public and she began appearing at his side at such events as the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Last summer, when the usually workaholic mayor spent his weekends with Nathan in the Hamptons, it cost taxpayers even more.

While he and Nathan relaxed in her Southampton cottage, detectives sat parked outside and their replacements stayed in nearby hotels.

The cost was about $3,000 per day, as The Post reported last May.

All special security details have to be approved by City Hall.

The mayor's office recently came under fire when The Post disclosed that ex-Police Commissioner Howard Safir was keeping his detail of as many as a dozen sergeants and first-grade detectives while virtually every other former top cop declined to keep even one officer as a bodyguard.

On June 4, 2001, the Post reported that, while Nathan's security detail had been "pulled" after the above article was published, "city detectives have once again been assigned to protect Mayor Giuliani's girlfriend, even as he has scaled back the size of his estranged wife's police detail":

Police protection, provided by one detective at a time, began about two to three weeks ago after the mayor's divorce case, heated up and brought intense media scrutiny on Nathan, sources said.

Providing a detective for 12 hours every day would likely require at least three cops - exactly how many were yanked from Hanover's staff when the mayor fired her as first lady May 24.

Each cop who is involved makes about $100,000 a year, including overtime.

Hanover still has a security detail, but she no longer has the three detectives who were assigned to an advance team that would inspect sites where she was scheduled to appear as first lady.

The decision to reinstate security for Nathan was made by the Threat Assessment Unit of the department's Intelligence Division, which provides protection for the mayor and other top city officials, sources said.

Last winter, Nathan was assigned two detectives after she was approached by a man on the street who told her he knew who she was and where she lives and then rushed off to a nearby subway station.

But the detail was pulled after three weeks when The Post first reported the security assignments Jan. 12.

On the NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthews Show, however, Matthews teased a discussion on the Politico story by describing Nathan simply as Giuliani's "future wife" and as his "then-girlfriend, now wife." In introducing the segment on the billing practices, Matthews described their relationship at the time as a "courtship" and stated: "[W]e've discovered that Rudy Giuliani, during the courtship of Judi Nathan, beginning in 1999, would take trips out to Long Island and, during the course of those trips, would bring his full security detail with him, but then bury the cost of the security detail in various agencies throughout the New York City municipality in a way to disguise, perhaps, the cost of his jaunts." At no point during the discussion did Matthews or any of his guests mention that Giuliani was married to Hanover at the time or that Giuliani subsequently provided Nathan with a taxpayer-funded security detail, even while his wife had her own taxpayer-funded security.

Likewise, on Fox News Sunday, in summarizing the billing controversy, Wallace described Nathan as Giuliani's "then-girlfriend, now wife," but did not mention that Giuliani was married to Hanover at the time. During the panel segment of the show, Wallace stated that "the story broke just hours before the Republican debate this week, Politico.com reporting that Giuliani went to visit his then-girlfriend, now wife Judith out in Long Island in 1999 and that expenses for his security detail ended up being paid by obscure city agencies. Bill [Kristol, Weekly Standard editor], I have to come to the conclusion that any story that begins 'presidential candidate' and 'girlfriend' are not good." In his response, Kristol noted that Nathan was Giuliani's "mistress" at the time. Neither Wallace nor his guests noted that, because of Giuliani's affair, New York City taxpayers reportedly footed the bill for both Hanover's and Nathan's security details.

Further, during the panel discussion on Meet the Press, Russert brought up Giuliani's billing practices by pointing to newspaper headlines reading "Doesn't Add Up!" and "Tryst Fund" and referring to "[t]he revelation that security costs for Rudy Giuliani's trysts with Judith Nathan were spread to obscure New York accounts." But neither Russert nor his guests mentioned that Nathan and Giuliani were engaged in an extramarital affair at the time or noted the reported cost to taxpayers.

By contrast, on This Week, Stephanopoulos brought up the billing issue and noted that New York City taxpayers had simultaneously incurred the security costs for both Nathan and Hanover. During the panel segment of the program, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller said that the story "brings up, again, to voters' minds his extramarital relationship with Judith Nathan." Stephanopoulos added: "I think most of the country when they learn that the New York City police were paying for security for his girlfriend ... and his wife at the same time, [they] might find that a little troubling."

From the December 2 edition of the NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthews Show:

MATTHEWS: "Place in the Sun": Did Mayor Giuliani hide the public cost of all those private Long Island visits to his future wife? Is this a scandal or, as he says, a political hit job? "Fast break!": Mitt's big plan was to win in Iowa, where he spent so much money; New Hampshire, where he was governor next door; then Michigan, where his dad was governor. But has Mr. Perfect been knocked off his game by the Bible Man?

[...]

MATTHEWS: First up, it's been Rudy at the top of the Republican field for months now, but this may have been the week that his lead began to look shakable. He's in hot water over what looks like clumsy attempts to bury security expenses for visits to then-girlfriend, now wife Judith Nathan. The whole murky thing could highlight two vulnerabilities: the women he's loved and the enemies he's made.

[...]

MATTHEWS: I want to go to Andrew [Sullivan, blogger and senior editor for The Atlantic] on this very point because the big story broke this late this week. Courtesy of the tabloids, courtesy of the Politico newsletter and the Freedom of Information Act, we've discovered that Rudy Giuliani, during the course of his courtship of Judi Nathan, beginning in '99, would take trips out to Long Island, and during the course of those trips, would bring his full security detail with him, but would then bury the cost of the security detail in various government agencies throughout the New York City municipality in a way to disguise, perhaps, the cost of his jaunts. Importance of this story, please.

SULLIVAN: Well, I think it just shows how Rudy actually is a little seedy in some of his affairs and the way he runs things, very much a personal fiefdom, very much personal loyalty. We know, for example, he won't fire a priest on his staff who has been very credibly accused of child molestation, says, "He's one of the finest people I know." This is a man who trusts his own judgment, rewards his own friends, and keeps his own counsel. Now, if you think that Dick Cheney's been a great vice president, you'll love Rudy Giuliani as president. You know, that's --

MATTHEWS: Will this story, Gloria [Borger, U.S. News & World Report contributing editor and CNN senior political analyst], about him apparently attempting to use bureaucratic bookkeeping to make sure it looked like -- didn't look like he was spending the taxpayers' money -- but is this not -- let's be honest among ourselves here --

BORGER: Love nest!

MATTHEWS: -- nobody is actually watching. I'm just kidding! Is this a keyhole into his private life? Is this --

BORGER: Love nest, yes!

MATTHEWS: OK.

BORGER: Of course! I mean, this is, you know -- this is what the tabloid headlines were about, and this is what Giuliani himself was so angry about before this debate, because he thought, you know, "Somebody leaked this," not to talk about the so-called sleaziness that you're talking about -- which may or may not be there -- but as a way into reminding voters in Iowa that he doesn't share their values.

From the December 2 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: That was Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani defending how his security detail was paid for when he used to visit his girlfriend as mayor of New York City. And it's time now for our Sunday panel: Fox News contributors Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol, also from The Weekly Standard, and Nina Easton from Fortune magazine.

So, the story broke just hours before the Republican debate this week. Politico.com reporting that Giuliani went to visit his then-girlfriend, now wife, Judith, out in Long Island in 1999 and that expenses for his security detail ended up being paid by obscure city agencies. Bill, I have come to the conclusion that any story that begins "presidential candidate" and "girlfriend" are not good.

KRISTOL: No, and when the follow-up story in the New York press is that, in fact, New York City police chauffeured around Judith Nathan when she was Rudy Giuliani's girlfriend or mistress, but certainly not yet married to him, in 2000 and 2001, that's not good either. No, it was a tough week for Rudy Giuliani. And I think his path to the nomination is very problematic. He's fourth in Iowa, third in New Hampshire, falling a little bit in the national polls. He's five points ahead of [former Arkansas Gov. Mike] Huckabee now in the Rasmussen national poll, and he's not ahead in the first two states.

From the December 2 edition of NBC's Meet The Press:

RUSSERT: Gene [Robinson, Washington Post columnist], a big week in the press for Rudy Giuliani, one that he really wouldn't enjoy. Here's how the New York tabloids played it up, and look at this: "Doesn't Add Up!"; "Tryst Fund." An analysis piece by Glen Johnson, the Associated Press, wrote it this way: "Security-billing case raises questions Giuliani has tried to avoid in campaign. The revelation that security costs for Rudy Giuliani's trysts with Judith Nathan were spread to obscure New York accounts exposes the former mayor to harsh questions his campaign wanted badly to avoid -- about character, truthfulness and a penchant for secrecy. Conservatives who were already troubled by Giuliani's support for abortion rights and gay rights have further reason to wonder about the thrice-married candidate's morality. Republicans seeking a candidate who can challenge Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton on issues of integrity may feel betrayed."

ROBINSON: I think you'd have to say the worst moment of the week was when Bernie Kerik came out and said, "Oh, it was just fine," and, you know, in support of Giuliani. That's not what you want to have happen. You don't want Bernie Kerik as your character witness, I think.

DAVID BRODY (Christian Broadcasting Network senior national correspondent): And I think it's -- it goes to the authenticity issue, because Giuliani has said all the time on the campaign trail that this is what he's about. "I'm not going to lie to you. I'm a straight shooter --

RUSSERT: "I'm not perfect."

BRODY: "I'm not perfect." But if this is a trickle, trickle, trickle, story, and all of a sudden we're talking about this in a month and all of a sudden, you know, all bets are off on that argument and that could be the most problematic thing.

From the December 2 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the Republicans. I asked Mike Huckabee about this story on Rudy Giuliani this week on whether he was hiding the expense of his security detail. He said no. Here's what Rudy Giuliani said about it at the debate the other night.

GIULIANI [video clip]: First of all, it's not true. I had 24-hour security for the eight years that I was mayor, and they took care of me, and they put it in their records. And they handled them in the way they handled them. I had nothing to do with the handling of their records, and they were handled, as far as I know, perfectly appropriately.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Elisabeth, you covered Mayor Giuliani as well for a long time now.

BUMILLER: I was there at this moment, right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Here's the way I understand it, that it actually was the policy to take money from these obscure accounts for many years, well before Judith Nathan was around, at least in Mayor Giuliani's life, yet it's a policy that has not been continued by Mike Bloomberg. So, it's really hard to figure out what is really going on here.

BUMILLER: Well, what's really going on here is a lot of perceptions, and this is not good news for the mayor's campaign. It's a fairly complicated story about, you know, city budgets and where you put expenses, but the bottom line is, there's two things going on here. The perception -- it makes the mayor look a little bit shady. He has to answer questions about this, and secondly, it brings up again, to voters' minds, his extramarital relationship with Judith Nathan.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that's the biggest story, no matter how it was paid for.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL (editor and publisher of The Nation): The biggest story is not his checkered family history. I hope this is a tipping point because we have to look at Giuliani's business and government record. And when you do, you see Bernie Kerik -- who, by the way, links into this story because he's supposed to have had supervisory role over the security detail -- and you have to look at Giuliani Partners.

The other piece of it, George, is that the media, with the exception of the New York City press and The Village Voice, Wayne Barrett, has given Giuliani a fairly free ride. And let us hope this is a tipping point. It takes a personal money, sex scandal --

BUMILLER: Actually, I --

VANDEN HEUVEL: -- to do that. It has. It has. I think Bernie Kerik should have gotten a lot more attention. The fact that his campaign chair in South Carolina is an indicted cocaine distributor and --

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's [unintelligible]. Bernie Kerik got plenty of attention.

PEGGY NOONAN (Wall Street Journal columnist): You know what I think is true, thoug?. First of all, in this story, the Giuliani story, there are two words that are important: one is "girlfriend" or "lady friend," and the other is "Hamptons." Do you know what I mean? "Oh, you're going off to this rich place to be with this lady, and we get to pay the price of that." That's one thing, but what interests me most is, Giuliani supporters on the ground, in the base, those Republicans, they all know about the former mayor's personal dramas and Bernie Kerik and all of that stuff. What interests me is, is this story something that will go too far for them? Is this something that will make them think, "I don't like it," or is it just more stuff?

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think you're right about core Giuliani supporters, perhaps, and maybe people who lived in New York City when Mayor Giuliani was there. I think most of the country when they learn that the New York City Police were paying for security for the mayor's girlfriend --

VANDEN HEUVEL: And his wife.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- and security for his wife at the same time, might find that a little troubling. I don't know.

[crosstalk]

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think reporting on the deadly missteps during 9-11 will break -- the firefighters attacking Giuliani may have more impact, because I'm telling you, George, I think Giuliani, who is a cross -- not Bush on steroids, which is too kind to him -- he's a cross between Cheney and [President] Nixon, can use 9-11 to trump these stories any time, and it's going to take a lot of digging.

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