Associated Press
January 19, 2000

Giuliani Criticized by Koch


New York (AP) -- Former Mayor Ed Koch criticized Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Wednesday for sharing a dais at a Martin Luther King Day event with an Austrian political leader who once praised the policies of Adolf Hitler.

``Is that a place to celebrate Martin Luther King Day, to be on the same dais as the leader of the neo-Nazi Party in Austria?'' Koch said at a news conference. ``Why didn't he denounce Joerg Haider? Why didn't he order Joerg Haider out of the hall?''

Giuliani and Haider, the leader of Austria's anti-immigrant Freedom Party, sat with about 80 others at a dinner Monday night given by the Congress of Racial Equality, which is led by conservative black activist Roy Innis.

Innis said Wednesday that he had invited Haider to the King dinner to ``show that he has distanced himself'' from his past remarks.

Among the others on the dais were Republican presidential candidate Sen. Orrin Hatch, photographer Gordon Parks and pop singer Brandy Norwood.

Giuliani, who has attended the annual fund-raising dinner honoring King for six years, did not know Haider was there, said the mayor's spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel.

``The mayor was invited, and, as he always does, he came,'' Mindel said. ``He didn't know.''

At the dinner, Giuliani -- a likely Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate -- gave a brief speech about King's legacy, and Hatch accepted an award on President Reagan's behalf naming Reagan CORE's ``Man of the Century.''

Haider has vehemently denied being racist, but he gained international attention several years ago for praising Hitler's ``decent employment policies'' and later, for describing veterans of the Nazi dictator's elite Waffen SS troops as ``men of character.''

The mayor's proximity to Haider put him in a particularly awkward situation because his campaign chief, Bruce Teitelbaum, had criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton, the mayor's likely rival for the Senate, for appearing at a King day event in which a minister told the audience he once was fired by ``two Jews.''

Mrs. Clinton did not hear the remarks, but criticized them afterward.

Copyright 2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved.