The chairman of Fox News may have committed a federal crime, according to legal documents filed by attorneys for a former News Corporation employee.
Affidavits filed in a lawsuit against a former News Corporation employee say that News Corp. executive Roger Ailes advised former publishing executive Judith Regan to lie to federal investigators about an affair she had with Bernard B. Kerik.
Kerik, a longtime ally of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was at the time being vetted as the next possible Homeland Security secretary.
Ailes’s goal in asking Regan to lie about the affair was meant to help protect Giuliani’s presidential ambitions, The New York Times noted in its coverage of the allegations.
Better still, Regan taped their conversation, the affidavits claim.
After being fired in 2006, Regan filed a wrongful termination suit against former employer HarperCollins, claiming that her tenure was ended because an executive at parent company News Corp. had asked her to lie. While she did not reveal who applied that pressure, she said it was to help protect Giuliani’s reputation.
Mere weeks after the suit was filed, News Corp. settled for $10.75 million.
The allegations against Ailes, and details about Regan’s maneuvering, were made public recently in documents filed by Regan’s former attorneys, who were documenting their work on her behalf to petition for additional fees.
In the document, attorney Brian C. Kerr remarked that the Fox executive in question had “advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”
Withholding relevant information from federal investigators is a federal crime.
It was unclear, however, if Ailes would be pursued following the revelations. Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia University law professor and former federal prosecutor, told the Times that cases of this nature “are not necessarily easy cases to make.”
Kerik, the former New York City Police Commissioner, backed out of his appointment to lead the DHS after concerns were raised about his business dealings and alleged connections to organized crime. Giuliani testified in 2006 that he had been briefed on Kerik’s suspicious background as early as the summer of 2000.
Kerik was indicted on 16 different charges in 2007, with prosecutors alleging that he accepted $255,000 in apartment renovations from a firm seeking business opportunities in New York. He was also charged with trying to hide the improvements from the IRS. The indictment also claimed he made false statements to the White House.
He was sentenced to four years in prison early last year.
At the time Kerik’s indictment was announced, it made the front page of every New York newspaper but one: the News Corp.-owned New York Post.