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Secrecy issues dog Giuliani, Clinton

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Filed: Country: Philippines

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer

Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton have secrecy issues dogging them.

The front-runners in national polls for their parties' nominations both are grappling with disclosure controversies as they seek to succeed President Bush, known as one of the most secretive chief executives in modern history.

For the Republican former New York mayor, the primary issue is Giuliani Partners, the consulting business he formed when he left City Hall. He still works for the firm but won't shed light on its business dealings or release a client list. He's not required to; the company is privately held.

"It isn't mysterious at all," Giuliani insists, arguing that the media has identified clients.

He's also battling — and dismissing — suggestions that security expenses for extramarital liaisons with current wife Judith Nathan were hidden in little-known city accounts. And, he is facing criticism for the handling of his mayoral records.

Clinton, the Democratic New York senator and former first lady, is taking heat over locked-away correspondence between President Clinton and her during their White House years. She often cites her experience in her campaign, and rivals argue she should expedite the opening of those records to allow her experience to be evaluated, particularly on health care policy.

She says the National Archives, which has custody of the records, "is moving as rapidly as the Archives moves." Her husband said last week: "I'm not trying to cover anything up."

A direct comparison between the Giuliani and Clinton situations is difficult.

"There's a concern on the part of Giuliani about his behavior, a man known relatively little to the public except in flashes of post-9/11 take charge," said Thomas Mann, a political analyst at the Washington-based Brookings Institution. "There are real questions about his probity, his choice of associates and potential conflicts of interest given the extraordinary amount of business he's done since leaving office and that touches on government policies."

"With Clinton, it's a bit of a muddle," Mann said. "It's appropriate that presidential documents be released and made public as soon as possible. It's a reasonable question to be raised," he said. But, he added: "It's not like there's necessarily some crucial information in there that's not being revealed."

Still, both candidates face lack-of-disclosure questions in a campaign marked by public concern about honesty and ethics.

A recent national survey by The Associated Press and Yahoo News found that both Democrats and Republicans rated those two issues as very important or extremely important qualities in a presidential candidate more often than any other trait measured.

Neither Clinton nor Giuliani was seen as particularly honest or ethical. Just 38 percent viewed Clinton as honest, while just 40 percent called her ethical. Forty-two percent called Giuliani honest, 40 percent ethical.

Secrecy questions about them could give voters pause — particularly after seven years of Bush's behind-the-curtain approach that included covert CIA prisons, warrantless wiretapping and classified memos on interrogation techniques.


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