Is Giuliani Running Like It's 1989?

News broke last Thursday that the Houston-based law firm Bracewell & Giuliani (yes, that Giuliani) was lobbying for Citgo, the oil company controlled by Venezuelan president and American critic Hugo Chávez. Rudy Giuliani had nothing to do with lobbying for Chávez, his campaign pointed out, but links to international rogues have caused Giuliani problems before. In his 1989 failed bid for mayor, Giuliani's then-firm, White & Case, repped Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. "Obviously, you're vulnerable when you are receiving income from a firm that's lobbying for a company that's perceived as damaging our civilization," says Ed Koch. "You can get rich, or you can get elected." Ouch. Swap Chávez for Noriega and Koch could have made that statement in 1989. After the jump, a look at the now-familiar pounding Giuliani took back in the day.

If Rudy Giuliani doesn't know his law firm is representing Noriega, a notorious drug dealer and dictator, how is he going to manage a city with nearly a quarter of a million employees? —Harrison Goldin, former city treasurer and Democrat, to The Times of London, May 21, 1989


The ten-second advertisement shows Mr. Giuliani on one side of the screen as an announcer declares that "Rudy Giuliani is being paid almost $1 million by the law firm that represents Panama's drug-dictator Noriega." Gradually, a portrait of General Noriega appears next to Mr. Giuliani as the announcer says, "That's incredible. That's Rudy Giuliani." — Description of an anti-Giuliani ad paid for by Republican competitor Ronald Lauder in the New York Times, May 20, 1989

"I don't think personally that Giuliani is tied to General Noriega's drug money … but it's a legitimate campaign issue that his law firm has ties to law firms that do business with the city." — Rich Weiss, political consultant, to Newsday, May 28, 1989

…Mr. Giuliani, eyed by Republican leaders as a future presidential candidate, has been seriously damaged by charges this week that his law firm is associated with Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. Mr. Giuliani's opponents claim that the candidate's salary of some $1 million is effectively drug money… — The Independent, May 30, 1989

With his campaign set back by reports that the Panamanian Government of Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega has been a client of his new firm, Mr. Giuliani is looking, aides said, for the most diplomatic way to detach himself without making it seem he erred in joining White & Case in February and without "burning his bridges," as one friend put it. — Washington Post, June 8, 1989

In July, [Democrat David] Dinkins moved ahead in New York poll matchups, and he has widened the lead as Giuliani and his campaign have repeatedly bumbled. They started by failing to cut short on the day he announced his candidacy the story about his law firm having Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega as a client and blundered right through the latest polling period by letting comic Jackie Mason talk like a serious politician about black and Jewish voting. — Newsday, October 8, 1989

Hugo Chávez Is Tied to Giuliani Firm [NYT]