Thanks, Bernie Kerik

For reporters anxious to sink their teeth into the mandate-cocky Bush administration, Christmas came early in the form of onetime Homeland Security designee and background check nightmare Bernard B. Kerik.

The Bernie story had it all: Undeclared gifts from city contractors, including cash for a bejeweled Corrections commissioner's badge; links to an allegedly mob-tainted construction company; dispatching city detectives to help him research his book (see page 4 of this report from the city Conflict of Interest Board) and find his publisher's cell phone; the mismanaged police charity; the arrest warrant in a case concerning late payments on condo fees; and his enriching relationship with a company that sold controversial stun guns to security agencies.

Then came the biggest bomb of all: The Daily News' revelation on Monday that Kerik had affairs with not only his publisher, but also with a Department of Corrections employee. A day earlier, the News had run four pages of hard-hitting Kerik coverage, much of it discussing the undisclosed gifts from friends.

The Post on Monday steered clear of the gifts story, and referred to Kerik's relationship with his publisher and reported mistress, Judith Regan, as merely a "friendship." Columnist Steve Dunleavy leapt reliably to Kerik's defense, scolding us to "remember his heroism." But Post business columnist Christopher Byron, who penned an authoritative piece on Kerik's Taser International dealings last week, gave us fresh dirt on Kerik's ties to Georal—a company from which the NYPD apparently purchased $200,000 worth of security doors for 1 Police Plaza while Kerik was police commissioner. The doors were never used, and current commissioner Ray Kelly has ordered an inquiry into their purchase. Last year, Kerik became an adviser to a company that later signed a distribution deal with Georal.

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The Times on Monday took a different approach with a front-page story on the Giuliani angle: Namely, how badly does Kerik's implosion hurt red state America's favorite pro-choice Catholic? The Times piece unearths some of the intricacies of Rudy and Dubya's relationship, which "has always been more complicated than mere friendship."

Speaking of complicated relationships, how about the one between Rudy and Bernie? After all, the Daily News reported Sunday that Kerik's ties to the mobbed-up construction firm were probed by the Department of Investigation while Kerik was still in charge of corrections—before Rudy named Bernie his police commish. The Times reports that after Kerik's pull-out on Friday, "Mr. Giuliani indicated that he should have known about Mr. Kerik's legal problems because he had named him police commissioner and then had gone into business with him."

Whatever happened to that DOI investigation?

Bernie's gift might keep on giving.

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