For those of us who like to dig through the Senate and House lobbying records, FARA registrations and old SEC filings, nothing excites like the possibility of a presidential candidate with deep but largely undisclosed business ties at home and abroad. So when I read the following exchange between Rudy Giuliani and CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, which took place on Kudlow’s show last night, I perked right up:
LARRY KUDLOW: “Will you take a look at 2012, there are lots of rumors in New York City?”
RUDY GIULIANI: “I will take a look at 2012. It’s really a question of, can I play a useful role? Would I have a chance of getting the nomination? Those are things that I’ll have to evaluate as the year goes along.
LARRY KUDLOW: “But the door is open, that’s what I’m hearing from you tonight?”
RUDY GIULIANI: “Yes, yes, Absolutely Larry.”
My former colleague Michael Weisskopf and I collaborated on a number of projects over the years. One was our piece on Rudy’s business interests, which focused on a successful relationship between Giuliani and a Florida company called Seisint that sold a very expensive piece of datamining software to state, local and federal officials, with Giuliani’s help. There were questions about the legality of Giuliani’s commissions, and the product turned out to be controversial: it raised civil liberties concerns because it gathered huge amounts of personal data. In the end, pretty much everyone that had bought the software, dropped it, either because of those privacy concerns, or because it didn’t work that well. Our piece also looked at other names on Giuliani’s client list, including Citgo (the Venezuelan oil company), the government of Qatar, and the Saudi national oil company, Saudi Aramco.
Giuliani’s been very busy with other deals since we wrote that story in December 2007. And given how much we already know about his business ties, it would be surprising if he really did make a serious run for president. He never did disclose his full client list or what, exactly, he was doing for Qatar. And you can make a lot of money and generate a lot of business just by “taking a look” and “leaving the door open” to a presidential run. But a reporter can always hope.