Giuliani: We Used 'Dirty Trick' To Suppress Minority Vote In '93 Election
Rudy Giuliani, a former Trump lawyer and prominent figure in the failed attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, has admitted to using a “dirty trick” to suppress the Hispanic votes during the 1993 New York City mayoral race.
Giuliani revealed his voter suppression trick on Tuesday night’s episode of his podcast, America’s Mayor Live, to his guests: indicted ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon and defeated Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.
After a 51-minute discussion rife with false election fraud claims, Giuliani claimed he’d been “cheated” in the 1989 mayoral race that he lost and shed light on a scheme he implemented during his 1993 campaign that spurred a Justice Department probe into his campaign.
“I’ll tell you one little dirty trick,” Giuliani announced, to which Lake — who has refused to concede defeat more than five months after losing her race — replied, “We need dirty tricks!”
“A dirty trick in New York City? I’m so shocked,” Bannon sarcastically said, seemingly pointing to the city’s mostly Democratic electorate. “No, played by Republicans!” Giuliani responded with glee.
“Republicans don’t do dirty tricks,” Bannon said, somewhat alarmed. “How about this one?” Giuliani replied.
The former mayor recalled spending $2 million of campaign funds to seat a “Voter Integrity Committee,” led by Randy Levine, the current president of the Yankees baseball team, and John Sweeney, a former New York Republican congressman.
“So they went through East Harlem, which is all Hispanic, and they gave out little cards, and the card said: ‘If you come to vote, make sure you have your green card because INS are picking up illegals.’ So they spread it all over the Hispanic …” Giuliani said, referring to the now-disbanded Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
The INS was a powerful and feared federal agency that enforced immigration laws, administered naturalization, and carried out deportations and raids to control the country's borders.
“Oh my gosh,” Lake responded, raising her eyebrows.
Then, Giuliani recounted to the far-right duo how — after his 53,000-vote win over incumbent African American mayor David N. Dinkins — his attorney informed him that then-Attorney General Janet Reno had launched a probe into his scheme for civil rights violations.
“Janet Reno is coming after us; we violated civil rights,” Giuliani said his lawyer, Dennison Young, had told him.
Giuliani said he told Young to rest assured because “What civil rights did we violate? They don’t have civil rights! All we did was prevent people who can’t vote from voting. Maybe we tricked them, but tricking is not a crime.”
Then, Giuliani conceded that his voter suppression scheme would have undoubtedly earned a prosecution in today’s society.
“In those days, we didn’t have crazy prosecutors. Nowadays, they’ll probably prosecute you for it … and that’s the way we kept down the Hispanic vote,” Giuliani said.
Lake quickly interjected, “Not the legal vote, the illegal vote.” Undeterred, Giuliani then responded, “Of course! The Hispanic illegal vote, which takes away the Hispanic legal vote.”
Huffington Post reporter Matt Shuham compiled several news media reports that alluded to Giuliani’s voter suppression scheme at the time.
The New York Timesreported in 1993 that after the race was called, Dinkins called a news conference to “accuse the Giuliani camp of waging ‘an outrageous campaign of voter intimidation and dirty tricks.’”
Dinkins’ allegations included “a charge that hundreds of small posters” put up in Washington Heights and the Bronx “suggested that illegal immigrants would be arrested at the polls and deported if they tried to vote,” wrote the Times’ Todd Purdum.
Giuliani denied the allegations back then, saying, “I can assure you this has nothing to do with my campaign and it is precisely what we expected from them,” the report stated.
Labor activist Andy Pollack mentioned the posters in an article for the socialist journal Against the Current published a few months after the election.
“Cops put up phony Dinkins posters in mostly Dominican Washington Heights, saying the INS would be checking voters’ documents at the polls. In some cases police themselves asked Latino voters for their passports,” Pollack wrote.
A few days after the election, the Washington Postreported that then-President Bill Clinton’s Justice Department was investigating complaints about voter suppression efforts in neighborhoods inhabited by Democratic minorities.
“Among the complaints are the placing of signs on telephone poles and walls in Latino areas warning that ‘federal authorities and immigration officials will be at all election sites … Immigration officials will be at locations to arrest and deport undocumented illegal voters,’” wrote Post reporters Thomas Edsall and Malcolm Gladwell.
On 2 November 1992, the day of the election, the Justice Department issued a statement denouncing the misinformation-laden posters.
“The Department of Justice is aware that posters have been placed throughout New York City misinforming voters about the role of federal officials in today’s elections … Federal observers are in New York to protect the rights of minority voters. They are not there to enforce immigration laws.”
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Sweeney said Giuliani’s claims were “nonsense” because he and Levine conducted a “legitimate” operation.
Levine admitted to the outlet that he and Sweeney ran Giuliani’s voter integrity group but insisted the operation was limited to “getting poll watchers and attorneys when there was a dispute.”
He denied having any knowledge of the scheme Giuliani raised on his podcast, saying: “My only knowledge was what was in the news back then and shortly after 1993.”
According to City & State New York, Giuliani also broached divisive topics, such as race and crime, during his campaign to “take advantage of white voters’ racial anxieties about casting a vote for Dinkins.” Exit polls at the time showed Giuliani netted 77 percent of the white vote in the race.
Decades later, Giuliani peddled false claims of widespread voter fraud and played a leading role in Trump’s legal campaign to upend his 2020 defeat to Biden.
Giuliani “weaponized his law license” to “undermine the legitimacy of a presidential election, to undermine the basic premise of the democratic system that we all live in, that has been in place since the 1800s in this country,” said Hamilton Fox, a prosecutor at the DC bar's Office of Disciplinary Counsel, said in December, recommending that Giuliani’s DC license be revoked.