NEW YORK – Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani acknowledged again Friday that he made a mistake when he recommended Bernard Kerik to be the nation's homeland security chief.
The acknowledgment followed a report in The New York Times that the former New York City mayor was warned about Kerik's relationship with a company with suspected ties to organized crime even before Giuliani appointed Kerik as New York City police commissioner.
Giuliani told a Bronx grand jury last year that his former chief investigator recalled briefing him on Kerik's relationship with the company, Interstate Industrial Corp., before Kerik's appointment.
But Giuliani, the front-runner for the 2008 GOP nomination, also told the grand jury he did not remember the briefing, the newspaper reported.
"The Mayor has said repeatedly it was a mistake to recommend Mr. Kerik for DHS. He cooperated fully with the grand jury," Giuliani's consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, said in a statement to The Associated Press.
A spokeswoman for Giuliani declined to explain why Giuliani appointed Kerik police commissioner despite having information about Kerik's relationship with Interstate Industrial.
Giuliani had previously said he hadn't been told about Kerik's ties to Interstate Industrial before he named Kerik police commissioner and, later, backed his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to become the nation's homeland security chief, the newspaper reported. The company has denied having ties to organized crime.
Once nominated by President Bush to head the Homeland Security Department, Kerik pleaded guilty last June to a misdemeanor charge of accepting a gift from Interstate Industrial, which was seeking city work.
Kerik acknowledged accepting $165,000 in renovations on his Bronx apartment from the company. But he never explicitly admitted that his efforts on the company's behalf were tied to the work on his home.
There is no evidence that Giuliani knew about the apartment renovation before appointing Kerik as police commissioner. But a top investigator who briefed Giuliani in 2000 knew that Kerik's brother and a close friend were working for an affiliate of Interstate Industrial, the Times reported, citing a transcript of Giuliani's sworn testimony last year to a grand jury investigating Kerik.
A prosecutor told Giuliani that Kerik had informed investigators about his brother's and friend's work for the company. The prosecutor also said Kerik, then the city's correction commissioner, told investigators he had tried to help the company as it vied for a city license to run a waste transfer station on Staten Island, according to the newspaper.
City officials refused to license the company in part because the transfer station was bought from two organized crime figures in 1996.
Giuliani testified that he had no specific recollection of the 2000 briefing or briefings, part of a background investigation before Kerik's appointment as police commissioner.
He noted that investigators cleared Kerik for the post, saying that might have been a reason why he could not recall the briefing or briefings.
"We may have filed it away somewhere that it wasn't as significant," he testified.