Washington Prowler

Friends Amid Scandals

Trent Lott's surprise. Rudy's abiding loyalty. Plus: The right Vatican appointment.

By 11.26.07

LOTT'S SURPRISE
The tin-foil-hat crowd was almost immediately pushing a Jack Abramoff angle to the surprise resignation of Sen. Trent Lott. But a more recent scandal brewing -- which has already ensnared Sen. Ted Stevens, among others -- may also be playing on Lott's mind.

Lott, Stevens, as well as Rep. Dennis Hastert all have ties to Bill Allen, a larger than life Alaskan businessman who owned Veco, an oil-field services company, and who was a huge benefactor of Republican politicians. Between 1980 and 2000, Allen, Veco executives and Allen's friends generated more than $1 million in political donations.

TIES THAT BIND
Against the advice of some of his campaign advisers, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has kept a suspended Catholic priest and childhood friend on the payroll of Giuliani Partners as a consultant. The priest has been caught up in the continuing sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

Msgr. Alan Placa, who was suspended from his priestly duties back in 2002 and who has also served as a practicing attorney, has worked on a consulting basis with Giuliani Partners. In 2003 a grand jury in Suffolk County, New York, accused Placa of sexually abusing multiple victims. That report was posted by the Bishop Accountability Project. According to the report, Monsignor Placa has been identified in media reports as "Priest F."

Giuliani has defended Placa, whom he has known going back to their days growing up together in Brooklyn. Placa now lives in a parish in Great Neck, New York, run by a fellow Monsignor, Brendan Riordan, who himself was named in a sex lawsuit that was filed against the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts. Placa and Riordan are business partners in several real estate ventures in and around New York City.

Placa, according to Giuliani insiders, has served as a legal consultant for the Giuliani Partners, and is one of Giuliani's closest friends. Placa oversaw the annulment of one of Giuliani's marriages and baptized both of Giuliani's children.

"[Giuliani] would never walk away from a friend, especially a friend who goes all the way back to the neighborhood," says a Giuliani supporter in New York. "This is not a donor we're talking about, it's a life-long friend."

VATICAN DESTINATION
As support for the nomination of Harvard professor and Mitt Romney adviser Mary Anne Glendon for U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See begins to lose steam, the White House is looking to several other possible candidates should it decide to pull Glendon's name from consideration.

According to White House sources, John Klink a prominent Catholic, who has worked for the Catholic Church for three decades with the Catholic Relief Services and as a Vatican diplomat at the United Nations, and as consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome, is emerging as a consensus replacement nominee.

According to Senate sources, the hold on Glendon is now being pressed by Democrats, with little to no support for the hold from Republicans. "There isn't much of a desire for a fight over this one," says a Republican. "If there is a better candidate, and Glendon gets pulled, you're not going to see a huge outcry. We just want to fill the post and move on."

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