Saturday, March 31, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Via WaPo: Ex-Partner Of Giuliani May Face Charges

Federal prosecutors have told Bernard B. Kerik, whose nomination as homeland security secretary in 2004 ended in scandal, that he is likely to be charged with several felonies, including tax evasion and conspiracy to commit wiretapping.

Kerik’s indictment could set the stage for a courtroom battle that would draw attention to Kerik’s extensive business and political dealings with former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who personally recommended him to President Bush for the Cabinet. Giuliani, the front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination according to most polls, later called the recommendation a mistake.

This will almost certainly be a major event that will shape the GOP nomination process. At the moment the predominant image that is propelling the Giuliani campaign has been the general perception of Rudy as the hero of 9/11–indeed, polling data released this week confirms this fact. The former mayor already has certain personal issues that I do not think have fully entered the general public consciousness, not to mention his liberal-leaning views on a number of key social issues, which I think will have a serious effect on his nomination potential. A trial like this that associated Rudy not with heroism, but with felonies and bad judgment, could kill his nomination.

It is possible that given the right confluence of circumstances that he can overcome those issues (although I think the odds are longer than current polling would suggest). However, a very public trial of Bernard Kerik on criminal charges will, at a minimum, raise serious questions about Giuliani’s judgment and also has the possibility to make public dirt on the mayor, given that he was a partner with Kerik in business and in government.

Indeed, this sums up the major threat to Giuliani:

Kerik’s legal troubles could damage the law-and-order image that is the bedrock of Giuliani’s campaign, said Republican political consultant Nelson Warfield, who is not aligned with any 2008 candidate. “Kerik has potential to undermine his image as a competent leader and someone best fit to fight terrorism,” Warfield said. “Either he had fundamentally bad information about Kerik, or he was reckless in not knowing enough about a man who was that close to him.”

There is also just the generic judgment question, given the number of appointees that a given president must make. Throw in the fact that the Bush administration’s second term has had a number of accusations concerning cronyism (e.g., Harriet Miers) and of incompetent management (e.g., FEMA, the DoJ) and there is a ready-made narrative here to question whether we want more of the same in 2009.

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One Response to “Rudy’s Kerik Problem May be on the Verge of Exploding”

  1. Political Mavens » Rudy’s Kerik Problem set to Explode Says:

    [...] [Cross-posted from PoliBlog] [...]

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