By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
In addition, one of Giuliani's closest allies in New York politics, State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, is under federal investigation, and the chairman of Giuliani's South Carolina campaign, Thomas Ravenel, is awaiting sentencing on federal charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The government will have to make a sentencing recommendation late this year in the Ravenel case, and the Justice Department would have to approve any Bruno indictment. Bruno announced his endorsement of Giuliani in May, and Giuliani recently made comments strongly supporting Bruno in his ongoing battle with Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer.
The client list at Giuliani Partners is just as inviting a target as Giuliani's friends and political associates, with his consulting role for Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, already provoking public questions. A Justice Department prosecutor told reporters this spring that Purdue hired Giuliani to block a probe that she was conducting with other investigators into Purdue's aggressive advertising of the morphine-like painkiller. Giuliani arranged meetings with the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, ultimately negotiating a favorable deal. Remarkably, Giuliani Partners was simultaneously retained by Justice on a million-dollar contract to advise it on how to improve the Drug Enforcement Task Force, which was investigating, among other things, OxyContin abuse. In other words, at the same time that Giuliani's firm was a paid consultant for Purdue, it was also a consultant for the DEA on how to deal with issues that concerned Purdue. The settlement that Giuliani worked out permitted the company's top brass to plead to misdemeanors and pay a $640 million fine to compensate for the lives ruined by the aggressively promoted drug. The DEA also decided not to limit the right to prescribe OxyContin to doctors who specialized in pain management, a proposal that Purdue had fiercely opposed.
Even the recent ruckus about Verizon and its cooperation with the National Security Agency's domestic-surveillance program may put Mukasey in a Giuliani-connected bind. The company has admitted that it turned over 94,000 customer records to federal and state authoritiesincluding hundreds without any court ordersince January 2005, and a Justice Department inspector general's report in 2006 found that similar potentially improper record transfers occurred for years before that. Verizon is a prime client of Bracewell & Giuliani. In addition, Paul Crotty, the respected federal judge who joined Mukasey on the Manhattan bench in late 2005, was the regional president of Verizon, which is based in New York. Crotty was Giuliani's corporation counsel and contributed $5,500 to his federal campaign committees before he became a judge$1,000 more than the legal limit (the excess was returned). When Crotty left, a Verizon press release stated that he was "responsible for government relations and regulatory affairs for Verizon's largest telephone operations company," but a company spokeswoman declined to answer questions about his possible involvement in the surveillance decisions, and Crotty did not return telephone calls from the Voice. Justice has already filed lawsuits in an attempt to protect Verizon from the subpoenas served on it by several states, and Mukasey will clearly be faced with a multiplicity of issues arising from the surveillance program.
Mukasey told the Senate that he believed the president may have acted appropriately in ordering the warrantless wiretapping.
Even Mukasey's current clients at Patterson have connections to both Giuliani and the Justice Department that raise disturbing questions. He represents the Renco Group, the private holding company that owns 40 percent of the joint venture that manufactures Humvees and has seen its profits soar in Iraq. Renco chairman Ira Rennert and his wife have maxed out their donations to the Giuliani campaign at $4,600 apiece. The Justice Department is suing a Renco affiliate for a magnesium plant that has polluted the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and federal prosecutors have been described in news accounts as "determined" to make Rennert "personally pay for the way his companies conduct business." Rennert recently refused to meet with a religious delegation from Peru, led by the Catholic archbishop, which was pressing the company to clean up its metals smelter in La Oroya, where 97 percent of the children have lead poisoning. A smelter near St. Louis has provoked lawsuits and similar protests.
Mukasey also represents Linda Lay, the widow of convicted Enron CEO Ken Lay. (Since Ken Lay's primary law firm was always Bracewell, Mukasey's representation may have come on a Bracewell referral.) When Ken Lay died last year while his conviction was on appeal, a Texas judge dismissed the case against him, despite a Justice Department warning that the dismissal could lead to the "disgorgement of fraud proceeds" in the tens of millions. The Justice Department is now involved in efforts to obtain restitution for Enron's victims; meanwhile, Mukasey mediated an estate dispute between Linda Lay and Goldman Sachs. Mukasey's other clients include Winston & Strawn, the Chicago-based law firm whose managing partner, Dan Webb, is also on Giuliani's judicial advisory committee. The firm's partners have given at least $18,950 to the Giuliani campaign.
There's no way to know, given the secrecy that grips Justice, how many cases directly or indirectly involving Mukasey clients or Giuliani interests might wind up before Mukasey. Would he distance himself from such matters, especially those regarding Rudy? He didn't as a judge. While he stepped aside on several matters involving the Giuliani administration, he did uphold the mayor's policy of seizing the cars of drunk drivers and was reversed on appeal. In any event, recusals are an imperfect way for an attorney general to separate himself from such probes, law-enforcement officials acknowledge, because the prosecutors who work for Mukasey may see his withdrawal on a case as a signal of the preferences at the top of the department.