The Washington Post has reconstructed the fiasco of the failed nomination of former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik to be U.S. homeland security secretary. The nomination was made at the behest of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is now running for the Republican nomination for president. The Post says that after Guiliani suggested Kerik, the White House quickly learned about his questionable financial deals, an ethics violation, allegations of mismanagement. and a top deputy prosecuted for corruption. Most disturbing was Kerik’s friendship with a businessman linked to organized crime. The businessman had told federal authorities that Kerik received gifts, including $165,000 in apartment renovations, from a New Jersey family with alleged Mafia ties.
Bush’s top lawyer, now Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, allowed the nomination to go forward only to have it collapse a week later. “The vetting process clearly broke down,” said a senior White House official. “This should not happen.” Federal prosecutors are likely to charge Kerik with felonies, including providing false information to the government when Bush nominated him. Kerik turned down a proposed agreement to plead guilty and serve time in prison because, his attorney said, he would not “plead to something that he didn’t do.” Said Giuliani: “I should have done a better job of investigating him, vetting him. It’s my responsibility, and I’ve learned from it.”