Rudy, Tycoon

In today’s Observer, we look into Rudy’s tycoonhood, which we maintain is real. Indeed, we suspect that it will be harder to leave Giuliani Partners for politics than many people assume. We had somehow missed, for instance, that late last year he acquired a midsize investment bank.

But the news in this piece is probably the most obvious instance of the strain between Rudy, Inc. and Rudy 2008, which occurred on February 8 in South Carolina:

“Mr. Giuliani had initially been booked by the South Carolina Hospital Association through the Washington Speakers Bureau to speak for his usual $100,000 fee. But then a massive tsunami devastated South Asia and “we just didn’t feel that a big old party was the right thing,” said Patti Smoake, the hospital association’s spokeswoman.

“Instead, the South Carolinians held a fund-raiser called ‘From South Carolina to South Asia.’

“Mr. Giuliani agreed to speak at the new event. He even wrote a $20,000 check to the Red Cross, the event’s beneficiary, according to figures cited by a South Carolina hospital official and obtained by The Observer. He batted away the inevitable political speculation that accompanied his visit to the crucial Republican primary state, telling a local reporter he was visiting ‘because I enjoy coming to South Carolina and because this is a worthy cause.’

“Mr. Giuliani didn’t mention it at the time, but he also walked away from the tsunami benefit with $80,000 at a time when celebrities from Bill Clinton and the first President Bush to George Clooney were donating time to the relief effort. There was nothing illegal, or even particularly unusual, about his taking a fee from a charity event– his fee was, technically, underwritten by corporate sponsors. But taking the money was not the move of a man whose political future depends on the good will of the voters of South Carolina, the decisive state in the 2000 Republican primary widely viewed as the immovable object between a socially liberal Republican like Mr. Giuliani and the nomination.

“‘It is not the gesture of someone who’s serious about running for the Republican Presidential nomination or someone who is getting sound political advice about South Carolina,’ said Nelson Warfield, a Republican political consultant who was press secretary to Bob Dole’s bid for the Presidency. ‘If you want to be President, you have to make some sacrifices, and one sacrifice would be giving it up for free to the good people of South Carolina and the tsunami victims.’

“The New York Dems’ Wolfson called it ‘Giuliani relief’ rather than ‘tsunami relief.’

“Giuliani aides said in his defense that he’d donated twice what the sponsors suggested.”