Giuliani's Clients Could Pose Conflict

The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 15, 2007; 11:20 AM

WASHINGTON -- Energy companies, FBI agents, a media tycoon and even a candlemaker: Rudy Giuliani's firm has lobbied for them all and dozens more in Washington, opening the door to a wide range of potential conflicts of interest should he become president.

If Giuliani were elected, his administration would be on the receiving end of regulatory requests, contract bids and policy proposals by the same clients of his Houston firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, that have contributed toward his personal net worth of millions of dollars.

Although the Republican has so far declined to identify all the companies with which Bracewell and his other firms have done business over the past five years, The Associated Press identified more than 175 as part of an expansive review of lobbying records, court filings and securities reports. Giuliani, like other candidates, was expected to detail his financial wealth Tuesday in a report to the Federal Election Commission.

Giuliani's law and lobbying clients have included Saudi Arabia, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., and chewing tobacco maker UST Inc.

Traditional procedures for government officials to prevent ethical conflicts _ expressly avoiding issues directly involving their former employer _ would be unavailable for a commander in chief. It is unheard of for a president, when taking office, to promise to avoid a particular policy issue.

Bracewell & Giuliani alone has thousands of clients but will name only a few dozen. Since Giuliani became a partner in spring 2005, it has reported lobbying on various issues the White House, the vice president's office, Congress and every Cabinet agency except the Department of Veterans Affairs, the AP review found.

Federal conflicts-of-interest rules do not apply to the president or vice president, because they are not technically considered U.S. government employees. Giuliani isn't personally registered as a lobbyist for any of the interests on whose behalf his firms have acted, and he has so far declined to otherwise describe his work for them.

But appearances matter when it comes to the public's perception of conflicts of interest, and the large number of clients and issues linked to Giuliani's firms could prove a liability.

Giuliani's corporate ties may dog him as Vice President Dick Cheney's past as chief executive of Halliburton Co., has followed him, said Kent Cooper, co-founder of the campaign finance and lobbying tracking service Political MoneyLine. Democrats accuse the Bush administration of playing favorites by awarding more than $19 billion in contracts to Halliburton's KBR unit for work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I think Giuliani will probably be continuously criticized for his business connections because that's who he listened to _ that was his circle of close advisers and his kitchen Cabinet so to speak," Cooper said.

Cooper said voters will face this question: "Are there past associations and business dealings that might impact the way the person thinks in office or how they craft a policy that might benefit one company or industry over another?"

Giuliani declined to comment.

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