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Rudy's Dirty Money | The Nation

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Rudy's Dirty Money

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In between stops on the campaign trail, Giuliani always found time to swing by the Houston office. "This summer, it was quite a thing to watch," Stein says. "He was there a lot, to be seen and to create press." At gatherings of prospects whom Bracewell wanted to lure to the firm, Giuliani was a star attraction. "It was as much a fundraising attempt as an attempt to get people to sign with Bracewell," Stein says. (The Giuliani campaign never responded to repeated requests for interviews with the candidate's business partners and key fundraisers.)

Research support was provided by the Puffin Foundation Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.

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Ari Berman
Ari Berman
Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation...

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Giuliani was back in Houston in early September, enjoying a Houston Texans football game with Oxford and Texans owner Bob McNair, who in 2004 had given more than $500,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans and another right-wing 527, Progress for America. Rudy had been in Arlington the day before taking batting practice with the Texas Rangers, courtesy of owner Tom Hicks, who was hosting a fundraiser at the park. That night, Hizzoner threw out the first pitch.

On the surface, it's surprising that a thrice-married, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control mayor of New York City could do so well in the Lone Star State. But when you examine Giuliani's record as mayor and his positions on the campaign trail, it begins to make sense. As mayor of New York, Giuliani tried to privatize everything he could, including hospitals, schools and the management of Central Park, while vetoing a living-wage ordinance for city employees.

On the campaign trail in Texas, like everywhere else, he talks largely about 9/11 and "the terrorists' war against us." (His foreign policy advisers include neocon war cheerleaders like Norman Podhoretz and Daniel Pipes.) He has taken a newfound hard line on illegal immigration and the border and frequently professes his love for Ronald Reagan. He talks about the need to further reduce taxes and shrink the government. In an essay on National Review Online, Pickens explained his support for Giuliani in part by noting that "Rudy will demand that each Cabinet member submit budget cuts of between 5 and 20 percent annually." When asked at a cocktail party in the Woodlands, a chic suburb of Houston, how he could win the South, Giuliani mentioned his "strong conservative credentials" and his competitiveness in a general election, according to Jim Granato, a professor at the University of Houston who attended the event. "He's the one they think can defeat Hillary," says Stein.

In a state where Republicans remain doggedly fond of their native son, Giuliani rarely, if ever, criticizes President Bush. "Rudy's been alone, among all the candidates, in treating Bush with kid gloves," says Giuliani's former deputy mayor, Fran Reiter. "So gathering Bush's supporters to his campaign makes sense to me."

When it comes to energy policy, Giuliani's record as mayor won't present a roadblock to his industry supporters. He put ten new power plants in New York neighborhoods over the objection of community groups and allowed utility giant Consolidated Edison to expand along the East River. Unlike other New York Republicans, such as former Governor George Pataki, "environmental issues were not a big category for Giuliani," says Reiter.

At a speech last year at the Manhattan Institute, the conservative think tank that generated many of Rudy's mayoral policies, Giuliani called the idea of energy independence "the wrong paradigm." He dismissed energy conservation as "helpful but not really very, very effective." He was most animated, according to press reports, about the need to build new nuclear power plants and expand oil drilling. "We haven't drilled in Alaska," he said. "We haven't built oil refineries. We haven't ordered a nuclear power plant since 1978." He also plugged ethanol, a favorite in Midwest corn states like Iowa, and so-called clean coal technologies.

On the campaign trail, Rudy now includes the requisite language about curbing global warming and weaning America from its dependence on foreign oil. One of his campaign's "twelve commitments" is to "lead America towards energy independence." At a diner in Waterloo, Iowa, this past summer, he was asked how he'd accomplish that goal, given his clients in the oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy industries. "Law firms aren't political," Giuliani responded, "so this is kind of a silly way in which people attack each other on politics. It has no relationships to your political position. As a lawyer, or a law firm...you don't make determinations of who you represent on your political philosophy."

That answer was less than convincing in light of Bracewell's political activism and Giuliani's newfound friends. These days, Rudy's "political philosophy" seems to mirror that of his energy clients and Bush Pioneers. There's synergy between the old Bracewell & Patterson and the new Bracewell & Giuliani. On a recent trip to Mississippi, Giuliani even floated the name of Haley Barbour, now governor of the state, as his potential VP.

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