Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani on Thursday denounced as a "political hit job" a website report that while mayor of New York City he billed obscure city agencies for his security incurred when he was having an affair with current wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons.
"Since the police department would sometimes … be slow in payment, City Hall would pay it first," Giuliani told the CBS Evening News. "Then the police department would reimburse every single penny of it."
Giuliani was responding to an article on Politico, a website which obtained the information for its story under New York's Freedom of Information Law. The article said the mayor billed little-known city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses for trips to Southampton during the start of his relationship with Nathan, who had an apartment there. The agencies included ones that aid the disabled, provide lawyers for poor people and regulate loft apartments, the article said.
Giuliani called the story, posted hours before Wednesday's debate, a "debate-day dirty trick."
Politico Editor in Chief John Harris disagreed and said Giuliani has not disputed any "substantive aspect" of the story.
"This was a fair and carefully reported story," Harris said. "We gave the Giuliani campaign ample opportunity to dispute the story or comment on our reporting before publishing and they did not do so."
The campaign issued a statement from former New York budget director and deputy mayor Joe Lhota saying the payment practice went back to Giuliani's first term in office, before he met Nathan. Lhota said security expenses were initially financed with a mayoral office credit card to "ensure timely payment." These expenses were distributed throughout the divisions of the mayor's office, he added.
"Before the end of each fiscal year, the NYPD would reimburse the Office of the Mayor … and (the agencies) were never deprived of any monies," Lhota said.