NEW YORK--Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani slammed ex-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's investigative tactics and defended Maurice "Hank" R. Greenberg, calling him a great man who was unfairly persecuted.
Mr. Giuliani made his comments last night during the fourth annual benefit dinner of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation honoring Mr. Greenberg, the former chief executive of American International Group and current chairman and chief executive officer of C.V. Starr & Co.
Praising Mr. Greenberg during his remarks, Mr. Giuliani called him "a remarkable American. He is a patriot."
He said he has "special feelings" for Mr. Greenberg because he supported his candidacy for mayor of New York in 1989 and because of his business success.
He said Mr. Greenberg had done many great things for this country.
Mr. Giuliani added, "I think what was done to him was one of the great outrages in American legal history," referring to Mr. Greenberg's forced retirement from AIG in 2005 during an accounting scandal that subsequently saw an AIG executive and four executives from General Reinsurance convicted of manipulating AIG's financial statement.
Clearly referring to Mr. Spitzer, but not referring to him by name, Mr. Giuliani said, "And the person who was doing it is terrible on television," adding, "What a nit-wit."
Mr. Spitzer, who was elected governor of New York in 2006 and resigned in disgrace after his liaisons with prostitutes were uncovered in 2008, is now host of an evening talk show on CNN.
Mr. Giuliani honored the insurance industry for its "tremendous generosity" and for being an important industrial focal point in the city. The success of the industry has allowed it to be a generous benefactor that has reached out, like other businesses, to help others rise out of poverty.
"Through private, philanthropic contributions, you do what America does best: we take care of each other. We help each other. We help each other to be independent."
Preceding Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Greenberg was gracious in accepting the IICF's award for influence in the industry and impact in the community, saying that all the credit for charitable works goes to the members of the insurance industry.
"There's not another country in the world where this would happen. The generosity of the American people, generally, tops any place in the world. Most countries would not even consider their industry doing something like this," he said.
Dinner chairman, Greg Case, president and chief executive officer for Aon Corp., announced that this year the IICF has raised $1.1 million. The money will support eight organizations with charitable grants.
The organizations are:
o Boys & Girls Clubs of America
o Boys Hope Girls Hope
o Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
o Community Mainstreaming Associates
o Covenant House of New Jersey
o Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
o Starlight Children's Foundation
o World Cares Center
On hand for the event, discussing their involvement and the importance of these charitable organizations, were baseball star Ken Griffey Jr., supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and hockey great Mark Messier, speaking on behalf of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
This story was updated on Dec. 10 at 8:48 a.m. with addition of Mr. Greenberg's comments.