Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Bernard Kerik: The gift that keeps on giving

New York City: Kerik kept first wife a secret

First there was "The Lost Son." Now comes the lost wife.

Investigators conducting a background check of Bernard Kerik last week as part of his confirmation hearing uncovered that the then-Secretary of Homeland Security nominee was married to a woman he has apparently kept a secret for the past 20 years.

Friends of his said they were not aware of the woman, and Kerik did not acknowledge the marriage in his best-selling autobiography, "The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice."

Instead, he wrote about only two marriages, one to a New Jersey woman named Jacqueline, whom he married in 1983 when he was 28, and one to his current wife, Hala, whom he married in 1998.

But Kerik, who withdrew his name for consideration for the nation's top security post on Friday, was also married to the former Linda Hales in North Carolina.

Kerik and Hales, who has since remarried and changed her name to Priest, were married Aug. 10, 1978, when she was 27 and he was three weeks shy of 24, according to her lawyer, Ronnie Mitchell. They separated in 1982 and were officially divorced June 6, 1983, Mitchell told Newsday.

In Kerik's book, however, he wrote that he married Jacqueline in the winter of 1983, raising questions about whether his first and second marriages overlapped.

This certainly helps to explain why two-timer Rudy and Kerik got along so well. I just can't decide whether letting Kerik twist in the wind is a net benefit or not, given that it pushes Donald "Marie Antoinette" Rumsfeld and the ongoing bloodbath in Iraq out of the spotlight.


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