NEW YORK — Rudy Giuliani has filed for bankruptcy, days after being ordered to pay $148 million in a defamation lawsuit brought by two former election workers in Georgia who said his targeting of them led to death threats that made them fear for their lives.
In his filing Thursday, the former New York City mayor listed nearly $153 million in existing or potential debts, including close to a million dollars in tax liabilities, money he owes his lawyers and many millions of dollars in potential legal judgements in lawsuits against him. He estimated his assets to be between $1 million and $10 million.
The biggest debt is the $148 million he was ordered to pay a week ago for making false statements about the election workers in Georgia stemming from the 2020 presidential contest.
Ted Goodman, a political adviser and spokesperson for Giuliani, a one-time Republican presidential candidate and high-ranking Justice Department official, said in a statement that the filing “should be a surprise to no one.”
“No person could have reasonably believed that Mayor Giuliani would be able to pay such a high punitive amount,” Goodman said. He said the bankruptcy filing would give Giuliani “the opportunity and time to pursue an appeal, while providing transparency for his finances under the supervision of the bankruptcy court, to ensure all creditors are treated equally and fairly throughout the process.”
Financial Strain and Legal Troubles
Last week’s jury verdict was the latest and costliest sign of Giuliani’s mounting financial strain, exacerbated by investigations, lawsuits, fines, sanctions, and damages related to his work helping then-Republican President Donald Trump try to overturn the 2020 election that he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
Declaring bankruptcy likely will not erase the $148 million in damages a jury awarded to the former Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea’ “Shaye” Moss. Bankruptcy law does not allow for the dissolution of debts that come from a “willful and malicious injury” inflicted on someone else.
And Giuliani’s filing came a day after U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington said Freeman and Moss did not have to wait the standard 30 days before starting work to collect the judgement, finding that Giuliani could use that time to hide his assets.
Giuliani has said he would appeal and said the damages award was “absurd.” Speaking outside Washington’s federal courthouse after the verdict, he repeated his claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. In a video later on X, formerly known as Twitter, Giuliani insisted he did nothing wrong and suggested he will keep pressing his claims even if it means losing all his money or ending up in jail.
The bankruptcy filing listed other potential verdicts against him in lawsuits related to his promotion of conspiracy theories about that election, including suits filed by the elections technology companies Dominion and Smartmatic.
He also listed lawsuits by a woman who filed a lawsuit claiming that Giuliani had coerced her into sex and failed to pay her $2 million in wages, and numerous claims related to unpaid legal bills.
Unpaid Legal Bills and Tax Liens
In September, Giuliani’s former lawyer Robert Costello sued him for about $1.4 million in unpaid legal fees, alleging that Giuliani breached his retainer agreement by failing to pay invoices in full and a timely fashion. Giuliani has asked a judge to dismiss the case, claiming he never received the invoices at issue. The case is pending.
Costello represented Giuliani from November 2019 to this past July in matters ranging from an investigation into his business dealings in Ukraine, which resulted in an FBI raid on his home and office in April 2021, to state and federal investigations of his work in the wake of Trump’s 2020 election loss.
In August, the IRS filed a $549,435 tax lien against Giuliani for the 2021 tax year.
Copies were filed in Palm Beach County, Florida, where he owns a condominium and New York, under the name of his outside accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP. That’s the same firm that Trump used for years before it dropped him as a client amid questions about his financial statements.
Giuliani, still somewhat popular among conservatives in the city he once ran, hosts a daily radio show in his hometown on a station owned by a local Republican grocery store magnate. Giuliani also hosts a nightly streaming show watched by a few hundred people on social media, which he calls “America’s Mayor Live.”
Upcoming Criminal Trial
Meantime, a criminal trial awaits in Georgia. Giuliani has pleaded not guilty in the case, which accuses him of participating in a wide-ranging conspiracy to thwart the will of Georgia’s voters who had selected Biden over Trump. Giuliani faces 13 charges, including violation of Georgia’s anti-racketeering law, the federal version of which was one of his favorite tools as prosecutor in the 1980s.
Giuliani is also an alleged co-conspirator listed in the federal case charging Trump with illegally working to overturn the results of the election. Giuliani is not charged in that case.