BREAKING: Rudy’s New Shag Fund Explanation!

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Seems he was doing it for the men in blue. From the AP

On Thursday, Joe Lohta, who was deputy mayor and budget director under Giuliani, said the billing practice was necessary because the police officers did not make a lot of money and their department took up to two months to repay them for their travel expenses. So Giuliani’s office got a credit card and paid it off with funds from the various agencies. At the end of each fiscal year, the New York Police Department repaid the divisions.

We’re a little unclear on this, though. The first hints of this story came when the city comptroller found that Rudy’s administration had hidden money for “non-local travel” in the budget’s of various obscure city agencies. It’s not clear from the letter from the comptroller that these monies were ever reimbursed. Indeed, the whole point of the letter seems premised on the assumption that they weren’t.

That said, the whole issue of subsequent reimbursement is basically a red-herring since the issue is why these they put them in these out of the way accounts in the first place. Presumably a subsequent reimbursement to the NYPD would have some effect of hiding the nature of the original expenditure.

And this explanation also seems bogus for another reason — one which, as we’ll see, should give us some further sense of how a Giuliani White House might operate. The City Comptroller started finding these irregularities in 2002 after Rudy left office. When the comptroller’s office asked Rudy’s people for an explanation, they refused to discuss it citing “security” reasons.

Now, I think we’ve all gotten used to the fact that the current crew at the White House uses various security-based excuses to refuse to answer questions about all sorts of things. But he’s actually the president. And while I think they’ve terribly abused this dodge to create a climate of extreme secrecy and non-trasnsparency, at the end of the day there actually are legitimate security issues tied to the president — both to the protection of his person and a decent amount of what he does on the job.

But the mayor? Please. At the end of the day, the Mayor of New York City is a mayor. Not James Bond or the Secretary of Defense. The idea that there are security reasons why he can’t explain to the city budget watch dog how he allocated money for his security detail is a joke.

And it is an instructive joke in this case. Because if this is all it’s about, helping out the guy’s on the security detail, why’d they refuse to say so back in 2002?

Face it: these clowns are blowing smoke like a three-alarm fire. They’ll do anything not to get this looked at.

Late Update: From this late report from Jake Tapper at ABC News, it now appears that Mayor Bloomberg’s office is saying that it “believes” (and there seems to be a heavy on that word “believes” in the statement) the fees were eventually reimbursed. As I said above, though, it’s basically a distraction. The issue was why they were paying these bills out of these obscure accounts in the first place. Reimbursement or not, it still has the effect of hiding what Rudy was doing.

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