Rudy Unzipped

His Private Matters are Daily Fodder for Consumption

A campaign launched with a defense of the Virgin Mary is now threatened by personal revelations that would embarrass Mary Magdalene.

If the premise of Rudy Giuliani's Senate run was that he was the designated Catholic candidate in a very Catholic state, as his Brooklyn Museum inquisition suggested, it's a premise that, after a week of marital tumult, lacks promise. If there was a money-back guarantee with the eight-page "Ten Commandments" mailing he did to Christian Coalition types right around the time he was first taking Judith Nathan to a Gracie Mansion reception, the campaign might wind up as broke as it is wounded. Eliot Spitzer might well be checking out those false-advertising statutes he's charged with enforcing.

When Rudy Giuliani decided to disclose Donna Hanover's previously sealed domestic record at a press conference last week, he set off a predictable chain of events. She disclosed his.

As usual, there were only unproven quality-of-life charges on the Hanover record that Rudy revealed. But when Donna was finished unveiling his, most of the city, and maybe most of the nation, knew he was a felonious fraud.

He said she was a "wonderful" mother and a "very, very fine person."

But it was the other "very, very fine person"—Judith Nathan—who he "relies on" and who "helps me a great deal." He made it clear that the reliance began before he was hit with prostate cancer. By saying he was "going to need" Nathan "more now than maybe I did before," he completed the attempt to implicitly indict coldhearted Donna. She was obviously not a comparable consolation in his hour of need.

Three hours later, it was her turn. She said that for "several years," it was "difficult to participate in Rudy's public life because of his relationship with one staff member." Her mouthpiece then identified the staff member, Cristyne Lategano, and specified the nature of the relationship: "intimate." At first, Lategano and Giuliani tried an identical game, referring reporters to their prior statements about this old allegation. They used to compose press responses together over a shared slice of pizza and they knew that their old answers were more rant than denial.

Then Lategano with New Husband Nick-Nick called the Times back from Yankee Stadium—where Rudy and "Crissy" once helped engineer World titles—and for the first time, she really did deny the hot stuff. Apparently too distracted at the park to see next season's deposition coming, Lategano declared: "What needs to be clear is that the only relationship I ever had with the mayor was a professional one." The handful of Yankee fans within earshot of Lategano could be heard in the Times newsroom booing this Rudy defense—another first in this era of mayoral-mandated championships.

When Lategano insisted that "there is nothing to prove other than a very close friendship," memories of George Brett's pine-tar home run filled the row. Too much stickum for that shot in the dark to fly. (It was no coincidence that Judi's first reported visit to the mansion was for a Yankee party.)

The talking heads on television were now the only people left in the metropolitan area who talked about the Lategano liaison as if it might not have happened. A wife who loved the limelight, exulting in her First Ladydom at the start of the first term, sunk behind a stonewall for years and was now saying she did so because the affair happened. Everyone in New York knew the wife would only say it happened because Rudy admitted to her that it had. Unlike Lategano, the ex-prosecutor was certainly not handcuffing himself with explicit denials before he was put under oath.

Giuliani was asked at a press conference if his securing of Lategano's current post atop the city-subsidized Convention & Visitors Bureau was a "crime" in view of their relationship and he flipped out. "Oh, get out of here," he told the reporter. "Get lost. Get lost. That's a sneaky way of trying to invade somebody's personal life."

Of course, his friend and onetime associate at the Justice Department, Ken Starr, spent millions investigating Vernon Jordan's efforts to get Monica Lewinsky a silencing sinecure. Having already paid Lategano's predecessor a $300,000 severance to make way for her, the tourism bureau refuses to divulge the term of Lategano's contract, making it impossible to calculate how much of a buyout she's entitled to collect. With the mayor's wife accusing the city's official greeter of delivering more than a welcoming buss, the tourism bureau just might one day wake up to its own embarrassing accommodation and look for a president who actually has experience in the industry.

As damning as Donna's porn-on-the-payroll charge was, she leveled a second count in her felony indictment. The lady whose four-member, city-financed, personal staff has refused to supply reporters with copies of her résumé, much less answer legitimate questions, announced that she and Rudy had "reestablished some of our personal intimacy through the fall." Coital positions were promised as part of the next budget release.

This revelation was designed to make her grand finale all the more climactic, as it were. "At that point," she said, meaning the fall, "he chose another path." The path, Judi Nathan, registered to vote from her new apartment at 200 East 94th Street on November 2, 1999, having moved there in the months immediately before. Her registration record indicates that as much as Rudy leans on her for advice now—medical, political, and otherwise—she never voted for him, having last bothered to vote at all in 1988, at least in New York. While she did live in California in the early '90s, she was a city resident during his three mayoral campaigns.

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