Rudy's Brain

Candidate whisperer: The ex-bartender who's got the ear of the GOP's top contender

It wasn't all fun and games, however. In the spring of 2001, the mayor called on his faithful aide to handle one more firing—that of his wife.

Giuliani was in the process of separating from Donna Hanover, his spouse of 16 years, who was still living in the mayoral residence at Gracie Mansion with their two children. For some reason, she had strenuously objected when Giuliani brought his new girlfriend to the mansion. Despite the estrangement, she said, she was still the city's First Lady and thus entitled to a certain level of respect.

Carbonetti was now dispatched to handle this most delicate of situations. His solution has been enshrined in the city's Municipal Archives, where is found this memorable memo he sent to the mayor's wife on May 22, 2001:

"In light of the quite public parting of the ways between Donna Hanover and the Mayor, it is obviously disingenuous and inappropriate for Donna Hanover to continue to act as First Lady or in any other way as a representative of the Mayor." Making sure there were no misunderstandings, he continued: "Donna Hanover will no longer serve as First Lady, and my office will designate spokespersons, as appropriate, to act on behalf of the Mayor."

It was this type of forceful action that Rudy Giuliani must have been thinking of when he wrote these words in his book Leadership: "Looking back, I believe that the skill I developed better than any other was surrounding myself with great people."

After all, even Karl Rove never fired a First Lady.

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