A 9/11 Charity Provides a Financial Safety Net to a Giuliani Firm


Because of his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Rudolph W. Giuliani has been indicted in two states and hit with a $148 million defamation judgment that forced him to seek bankruptcy protection.

Through all of that, he has kept a reliable financial ally: a charity founded to honor the memory of a firefighter killed on Sept. 11, 2001. The problem, according to his creditors’ lawyers, is that he has withheld that detail throughout his first five months of bankruptcy proceedings.

In a filing last week, attorneys for Mr. Giuliani said that one of the former New York City mayor’s companies, Giuliani Communications, receives about $16,300 per month in income from his one-man internet show “America’s Mayor Live.” Mr. Giuliani’s attorney said that money comes “mainly” from the Sept. 11 charity, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

The revelation of the revenue stream comes after months of deeply contentious arguments from creditors about the state of Mr. Giuliani’s personal finances, with complaints that much of it remains deliberately incomplete and opaque. Only recently did creditors learn, through social media, that Mr. Giuliani had a contract to earn money from a new branded coffee line.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation confirmed that it sponsored both the livestream and Mr. Giuliani’s now-canceled radio show. The group declined to say how much it paid overall.

“In the years following 9/11, Mayor Giuliani has been an invaluable supporter of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. He was instrumental in planning the first Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk NYC in 2002,” the foundation said in a written statement. Mr. Giuliani, then the mayor, was at Mr. Siller’s funeral. Mr. Giuliani’s attendance at that and other such funerals cemented his connection to the families of many of the emergency responders to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.

Mr. Giuliani has said he gets no income from Giuliani Communications, the company that received sponsorship revenue from the radio show and the livestream. His creditors’ lawyers have said they believe he “is working for free to the detriment of his creditors, which in itself is problematic, and/or funneling funds that belong to his creditors to his business and using his business as a personal piggy bank, which is fraudulent.”

Under bankruptcy law, entities that have not filed for bankruptcy, like Mr. Giuliani’s companies, are not required to file operating reports. Mr. Giuliani is supposed to disclose how much money he makes from them, and even though he says he is an employee of Giuliani Communications, he says he is not paid anything from the company. But the creditors’ lawyers have asked that he file reports about his corporations and also could ask that his businesses be consolidated into his case. They already have requested that a trustee take over both his personal and business finances.

A spokesman for Mr. Giuliani said the former mayor was “proud to partner” with the charity.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was founded to honor Mr. Siller, a New York firefighter who had just finished his shift when the first airplane hit the World Trade Center. Finding the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel closed to vehicles, Mr. Siller ran through it toward Manhattan on foot.

The foundation has expanded into a national organization with $305 million in revenue in fiscal year 2022. It hosts fund-raiser runs in New York and around the country. The nonprofit says it provides housing for families of fallen soldiers, for wounded and homeless veterans, and for injured emergency responders. It also creates educational materials on the Sept. 11 attacks.

The charity spent about $30 million on advertising in 2022, the last year for which figures are available, and has sponsored other shows on outlets like Fox News Channel and New York’s WABC radio. Tunnel to Towers previously sponsored Mr. Giuliani’s radio show on WABC, but the station canceled it last month because he persisted in making false claims about the 2020 election.

Mr. Giuliani’s livestream is broadcast live on social media networks and is replayed a day later on Newsmax. Typically, Mr. Giuliani opines on recent news events, often criticizing President Biden and Democrats. Other ad spots are taken up by Donald Trump Jr., with campaign messaging; Trump ally Roger Stone; and Mr. Giuliani himself, stumping for his new coffee line.

In one recent livestream, after talking about President Biden’s foreign policy decisions, Mr. Giuliani took a minute to talk about the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

“The foundation has helped over 1,000 military and first responder families navigate the worst of times by removing the burden of a mortgage payment. Our nation’s heroes, and their families need your help now more than ever,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Donate $11 a month to Tunnel to Towers at t2t.org.”

Nonprofit charitable organization are prohibited from campaign activities, but charity experts say that simply advertising on a program that espouses political views doesn’t violate such rules.

Mr. Giuliani was supposed to disclose all of his income months ago, as part of the bankruptcy process. But he did not disclose his company’s income from the radio show or the livestream until recently, after questions from his creditors’ lawyers.

Mr. Giuliani’s routine reports about his spending have been incomplete and confusing. Several times, he has said his sole sources of income were social security benefits and his radio show and podcast. Yet none of his monthly reports show any compensation or salary. These reports show that each month he spends more than he earns. And his cash balances at the end of one month often conflict with the balance at the beginning of the next month.

“His financial reporting and record-keeping are abysmal, as he commingles his personal affairs with those of shill businesses,” lawyers for the creditors wrote in a recent filing. “And it follows therefrom that the Debtor cannot find even one accountant willing to work for him.”

After learning about Mr. Giuliani’s new coffee venture, Rudy Coffee, on social media, his creditors’ lawyers asked for a copy of that contract, which his lawyers provided. Mr. Giuliani is set to receive 80 percent of the net profit.

The coffee, packaged with his face on the bags, goes for $29.99 for two pounds. In the ads that play during his livestreams, Mr. Giuliani says sales of the coffee will help raise money for another nonprofit, Call 2 Action. He said this group “is devoted to helping veterans and first responders. So you can make a difference — and taste the difference.”

It is unclear what nonprofit he was referring to. No group named Call 2 Action appears on the Internal Revenue Service’s list of tax-exempt charities. A QR code on the coffee bags leads to the website www.call2action.com. But that is not a charity: it is a website about social-media marketing.

Rudy Coffee did not respond to a message sent via its website, asking for details about the nonprofit. Mr. Giuliani’s spokesman, Ted Goodman, did not respond to questions about the charity.

Seamus Hughes contributed reporting.

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