monkeeys

monkeeys

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Chapter 28


Ravi Kamatrappa was sitting in my waiting room.  He had made an appointment with Pat a week ago for 10am.  It was now 2:30 pm and I had no intention of letting Ravi in my office before the close of business.  He had told Pat that he wanted to apologize and beg my forgiveness.  He also claimed to want to come back to Leathers and Lace as a client and he promised to tell me how to put Richard in jail.  All these things interested me but I was enjoying watching Ravi squirm on my security camera far too much to let him come grovel before me just yet.

“Pat can you give Ravi a notepad and ask him to write in detail what information he has about Richard that he wants to provide me.  Tell him I need to review it before we meet”

“You’re enjoying Ravi’s discomfort aren’t you Mort?”

“You bet, fuck that disloyal cocksucker”

“Do you want me to ask him how much he would be willing to sell his McLaren for?”

“You are the best, Pat.  Tell him I’ll give him his asking price but he has to repaint it pink before I’ll sign the papers to buy it”

“You aren’t going to buy it are you Mort?”

“Nope, but think how many people will laugh at Ravi driving around in a pink McLaren.  I crack myself up.  Also call Dante and see if he can get some reporters to stop by and interview Ravi while he is sitting in the waiting room.  I’m going to slip out the back hallway and grab a bite at the Grove, I’ll be back in an hour or two”

As I walked to the Grove I felt like I had the world dicked.  Everything was working out for me and my friends and enemies alike were in trouble.  What more could a lobbyist in Albany ask for?  As I walked into the Grove I noticed Danny and Mickey Dolan having lunch with Alex Shimmel.  There was a bottle of Dom Perignon 1966 on the table and smiles on everyone’s faces.

“Well gentleman judging from the 1966 Dom it looks like you are celebrating”

“We are Leathers we are, Alex just agreed to a valuation of Dolan and Kerr at 4 million dollars.”

“That’s wonderful Danny, and Mickey I trust that you will remember who put you guys together”

“Absolutely Mort, you’re finder’s fee will be paid at the closing as we agreed”

“Let me get this straight Leathers, you agreed to a finder’s fee with Mickey and with me?  Both the buyer and seller are going to pay you a finder’s fee?”

“Yes Alex you are, and before either one of you gets upset and tries to avoid your financial obligations remember from your individual perspectives the other party paying me a finder’s fee is irrelevant to your end of the deal, but my litigating very publicly your failure to fulfill your obligations could cost each of you a substantial sum.  And Alex before you consider walking away from this deal to spite yourself consider what your South American patrons will do to you when they find out we were splitting my fee”

“We weren’t splitting your fee Mort”

“True but they wouldn’t know that and given your reputation I think they would believe it, don’t you?”

“Why aren’t we splitting your fee Mort?”

“Because you were so relieved to return from your ski vacation without a Columbian necktie that you were off your game, it happens, Get over it, get this deal closed and I’ll teach you how to start scamming your clients. Danny will teach you how to start fucking the Albany social elites and Mickey will teach you how to . . . what is it you are good at again Mickey?  Never mind just remember Alex do not let Mickey hire anyone or write a check without permission.  Do that and this merger might actually be successful.  And by the way just so there are no hard feelings I’ll pick up the cost of the Dom.  Now go celebrate and set a closing date so you can announce the deal publicly”

I walked over to Jelly who had been watching the entire exchange.

“Jelly make sure the Dom ends up on my tab.  What are you charging for it now a days $2000?”

“Mr. Leathers you are as generous as you are misinformed. The 1966 is on the wine list at $2695 but since you were so helpful in locating Mr. Behuda for my Uncles associates I will confide in you that the Dom is really a 1997 vintage that one of our associates’ bottles in counterfeit 1966 bottles, my actual cost is under $100.  Allow me to place it on your account as a 1966 for $2695 and I’ll mark it paid if you give me a couple of $100 bills.  That way we are all happy.  Mr. Dolan and Mr. Shimmel think you bought them a $2695 bottle, I double my money and you get a $2695 tax write off for $200 cash.”

Lev Behuda had not been seen since he left the Grove after a meeting with me to wrap up the purchase of his real estate interests by one of my clients.  I had to miss the meeting at the last minute as a result of a problem with the Audi and Lev walked out of the Grove upset but in one piece.  Most knowledgeable people in Lev’s line of work did not believe he would ever be seen again unless someone could put together the jigsaw puzzle that was the late Lev Behuda’s body.  While I normally avoided involvement with Jelly’s family it didn’t seem to be a big deal to satisfy their request to get Lev to have dinner with me at the Grove what was unusual was the Audi not starting as it was flawless when it came to reliability.  The Audi mechanic said he had never seen one have a battery connection broken like mine had been.  He said it was almost as if it had been cut.  A $700 repair bill later and I was only an hour late for my meeting with Lev, but Jelly told me he had already left.

“Jelly you are nothing if not thoughtful.  Can I get a table in the corner, a bowl of gazpacho and a Caesar salad?”

“Certainly Mr. Leatherbaum and I would recommend a dozen oysters as well.  They are superb today and I believe Ms. Corehouse is being released from jail today and we are expecting her shortly, would you like me to have her join you?”

“Oysters and a just released from jail Jenny Whorehouse, I like you’re thinking Jelly”
Albany could be a wonderful place to be a lobbyist if you just lacked a conscience.  And a conscience had never been a problem for Mort Leatherbaum

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chapter 27


It was quiet in Albany.  McLowey was in Iowa pursuing a runaway teenager from a convent in upstate New York.  That was the story Sam had placed in every newspaper in the free world, the truth was the teenager was actually a 16 year old nymphomaniac that McLowey had met at the local high school while he was escorting delinquent students to class.  Didn’t matter, McLowey was now the frontrunner for the nomination and as long as Sam could keep the windbreakers and photo opportunities coming in key battleground states he stood a real chance of being elected president.  DeJardin was right the voting public had the IQ of a functional illiterate.  If you could sell them Viagra and toilet paper you could sell them McLowey.

Speaker Washington was no longer the Speaker and rather than serve as an ordinary Assemblyman had resigned the office and returned to Queens Boulevard and a thriving business as a pimp/fake Rolex salesman.  He had been replaced by Jan Doe X.  Jan was perhaps the most inclusive elected official ever.  Jan was a transgender, biracial, agnostic, rabbi/priest/imam, who had been elected from a district in Chinatown but was educated at SUNY Plattsburgh in upstate New York.  His wife/husband was a leading member of the Rainbow Coalition and had been the founder of Headshot, an online retailer of fully automatic hunting rifles.  Jan had never taken a position on any controversial issue but had a unique talent that left the voters and other legislators believing that Jan supported their cause.  In short Jan was everything to everybody and perfectly suited to lead the dysfunctional self-interested legislative body that we called the New York State Assembly.

Hibert had cut a plea deal ahead of the Rico trial.  By agreeing to testify for the government he would avoid prison but had to resign his Majority Leader’s post and agree to leave the State of New York.  In response Hibert moved both his families to Utah, became a Mormon and was presently running a Mormon job placement service focused on government jobs in Utah.  By all reports he was very successful.  Squabble had quickly put together a coalition of disenfranchised senators who rallied behind Squabble’s call for more weed, less greed in politics.  He had offered any senator that voted for him as majority leader the post of majority co-leader

At last count Squabble was just two votes short of becoming the new majority leader. 

I had been busy trying to put Danny’s lobbying firm together with Alex’s crisis management company.  While they had conceptually agreed on a deal Alex had now cancelled and/or rescheduled the last 12 meetings with Danny’s boss Mickey Dolan.  Every time Alex rescheduled he reassured Mickey the deal was going to happen and Mickey would hire more lobbyists convinced the merger was just around the corner.  The end result was Mickey missed payrolls, the old staff had for the most part resigned and found more stable employment and all that was left of the once powerful lobbying firm of Dolan and Kerr was an office they were being evicted from.,16 new lobbyists that could not find employment elsewhere, a used Ford Explorer that belonged to Mickey’s son and debts that now approached the mid seven figures.  Danny was barely able to make all his alimony payments by borrowing money from most of the wealthy matrons he had bedded over the years.  In short Danny was out of time which meant I would soon be out of time to avoid the ask.

Pat walked in.

“Leathers are you going to see Daniel today?”

“Do I have a choice?  You have put him on my schedule every day for the past two weeks”

“He’s your friend and he needs your help.  Can you give him this envelope when you see him?”

I took the envelope, it felt like it was filled with cash.

“Pat why are you supporting Danny?  You can’t afford it”

“Mort, Danny is a sweet boy and I’m very fond of him it’s the least I can do for him”

“Pat, Danny is a serial womanizer and sex addict”

As Pat walked away I could have sworn I heard her say to herself . . .

“And he’s hung like an Arabian stallion and it’s your cash from the safe anyway Mort”

As I started to open my safe and count my cash reserves my cellphone rang it was Andy Karp.

“Andy how have you been?  I haven’t heard from you in weeks”

“I put in my papers to retire Mort, I’m going to run Eggy’s full time and work for the bureau as a contract consultant part time”

“Congratulations Andy I wish you much luck, the restaurant business is tougher than the law enforcement gig. There is a lot of theft in restaurants”

“I’ve already addressed that Leathers, no cops allowed in Eggy’s anymore and I installed table vending machines for the sugar, salt, pepper and creamer.  Now I’ll make a nickel more every time someone wants sugar.”

“Andy with your knowledge of crime, corruption and cops I’m sure you will do well with a diner.  Are we all square then?”

“Not by a long shot Leathers.  I’m still kind of a big shot with the bureau so you still need to keep following directions”

“But Andy, Albany has been cleaned up don’t you read Ping’s self-congratulatory press releases?”

“We will get to that in a moment Leathers, right now I want to talk about how you can help me”

“Do you want me to wear a wire?  Do you want me to feed you inside information on what the legislators are up too?  Do you want me to set up undercover stings for you?  I’ve done it before I’ll do it again.  You know as long as you can send me to jail I’ll do whatever you want, just like every other lobbyist, legislator and secretary in this town.”

“Well thank you Mort but right now I just want you to tell your friends to hold their fundraisers at Eggy’s”

“Eggy’s is not really the kind of place to do a fundraiser Andy”

“That’s where you are wrong Leathers.  No one really wants to attend the fundraiser the politician just wants the money and the lobbyist just wants the credit for contributing.  That’s where Eggy’s comes in.  We will collect the money and send it to the politician along with a list of who contributed and would have attended if Eggy’s wasn’t a shithole diner.  And we will do it for half the price most other venues will charge.  No one has to know if the fundraiser actually happened”

“That’s pretty smart Andy.  Let me work on it”

Friday, June 12, 2015

Chapter 26


In the weeks after Ping’s indictment of the entire state government as a criminal enterprise life had returned to a semblance of normality at the capital.  It looked like Governor McLowey had stumbled upon an issue that was going to increase his public opinion polls to a level that might even force the U S Attorney in Buffalo to drop his public corruption case against McLowey.  The issue was public safety and McLowey like every public official before him knew you could not go wrong being photographed in an official looking windbreaker at the scene of a public safety event.  For McLowey the public safety event was the escape of 3 prisoners from a maximum security prison in Fishkill.  McLowey toured the prison after the escape and was photographed interrogating inmates and even holding the remains of an Amazon drone the inmates had allegedly used to deliver a copy of McLowey’s most recent book “Profiles in how to escape from prison for dummies”.  The inmates were believed to have used the delivery drone as a helicopter to fly over the prison walls to freedom.

McLowey repeatedly visited communities around the prison as every sighting of the escaped trio brought news cameras and a different colored windbreaker to be worn by the increasingly popular Governor McLowey.  When McLowey, dressed in a blaze orange windbreaker finally announced the capture of the trio he completely ignored the fact that the trio had been found in the prison library, where they had been reading the prisons entire collection of McLowey books.  Books purchased with state funds by the department of corrections to boost McLowey’s book sales.

McLowey’s approval rating soared and the McLowey camp started trotting the governor out to every escape, including the most recent event where several fifth graders had been late returning to class from a kickball game at a nearby playground.  McLowey ordered the state police to deploy all their resources including the state helicopter to hunt down the wayward kickballers.  The next day front page story in the Times Union had a large picture of McLowey in a pinstriped windbreaker investigating a hole in the chain link fence surrounding the playground.  And his approval rating jumped another 10 points.

McLowey became so invested in his pursuit of escapees that he began to use his campaign funds to hire high school students to cut classes so that McLowey could personally escort them back to class.  His new chief of staff, Sam Munro, who replaced Licketysplit, came up with the brilliant idea of McLowey wearing a black windbreaker with the schools name emblazoned on the back for every photo op of McLowey marching the delinquent student back to class.  Images of McLowey looking like General McArthur striding ashore began to appear in every local newspaper across the state.

I called Sam to congratulate him on McLowey’s most recent photo showing him in the black windbreaker with the name “New Hampshire” on the back prodding what appeared to be an illegal immigrant back into a rural school.

“Sam, absolute brilliance.  You get the escapee money shot, you get the anti and pro dream act demographics with the illegal going back to school after wasting taxpayer money by cutting class but why does the windbreaker say New Hampshire?”

“That was the best part Leathers, but first let me thank you for suggesting to McLowey that I replace Lickety.  It’s more money, it’s more high profile and best of all it’s more fun”

“Don’t mention it Sam, you deserved it.   And I know you will remember who helped you when the time comes that I need a helping hand, but why “New Hampshire?”

“McLowey really thinks this whole escapee manhunt issue is going to propel him to the presidency and the best seller lists so we have to expand the issue and McLowey’s role beyond New York, I decided every time we have an escape now we will coordinate with various states to aid in the search.  With the New Hampshire primary coming up that picture of McLowey in a New Hampshire windbreaker bounced us 15 points in the most recent poll in New Hampshire”

“I’m proud of you Sam, you’ve found your true calling”

“I’ve got to tell you Leathers as long as people keep escaping McLowey has a real chance”

“What if you run out of people to call escapees?”

“Well here’s my true genius Leathers, McLowey is going to use his executive order powers to release former legislators convicted of political corruption on work release and then he is going to revoke the work release and hunt them down as escaped convicts.  People will love former legislators being hunted by bloodhounds and swat team members carrying seven shot semi-automatic rifles and I can have windbreakers made up with the title of his most recent book on the back for him to wear.  It ticks all the boxes and corrupt politicians are in never ending supply”

“I’m in awe of your talent Sam”

My cell phone rang it was Jamie.

“Mort I haven’t seen you in quite some time”

“Well I was worried Jamie that you were upset with me over the Times story about Ping and the prostitute”

“Mort in my line of work you can’t get mad about the truth and I knew who you were when we first met”

“What does that mean Jamie?  You knew who I was?”

“Let me tell you a story Mort that my grandfather told me”

“Another Amish fairytale?

“No Mort just some sound Amish wisdom.  My grandfather told me of this Amish farmer that need to replace his breeding cow, so he went to his neighbor who sold breeding cows.  The neighbor said I have two for sale.  The first one is from Climax and will breed with any bull as often as you need but she costs $2500, the second one is from Surprise and is more difficult to breed but only costs $250.  The farmer looks the cows over and thinks the Surprise cow looks better and is far less expensive so he buys the Surprise cow.  When he gets the cow back to the farm he puts her in the pasture with the bull who breeds with her once but every time after the first time the cow bucks wildly when the bull tries to mount her and will not be bred.  The farmer goes to the deacon of the church and tells him the story of the two cows.  The deacon asks if the cow the farmer bought is from Surprise.  The farmer says yes how did you know?  To which the deacon answers my wife is from Surprise”

“That’s funny Jamie but what does some prudish Amish wife have to do with us?”

“Mort you’re not the first lobbyist I’ve known, and you are all the same.  I knew you were a Surprise cow before I ever invited you in for pretzels and root beer”

“And you were ok with that?”

“Sure Mort, did you ever consider the deacon married a girl from Surprise on purpose?  Lots of girls from Climax too you know”

I was sure there was another message in that last line but for now I was just relieved that Jamie wasn’t blaming me for being identified as an Amish whore in the Times article.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Chapter 25


It was Dan Kerr.  He sounded shaky and depressed.

“What’s wrong Danny?  You sound like Bobby just took your wife to lunch”

“He’s welcome to her, she became ex-wife number 5 yesterday”

“Caught you with that new secretary?”

“No, we had to let the secretary go, in fact that’s why I’m calling.  Mickey missed the last two payrolls I’m pretty sure the firm is going to fold.”

“Missed two payrolls? How is that possible? You have a ton of clients what were you? . . . Number 7 on the top ten list last year?”

“It’s possible because Mickey may be the world’s worst businessman.  His idea of budgeting is if there are checks in the checkbook there must be money in the account.  If we gross $5 million he spends $6 million.  It was manageable while we were growing and bringing in that senate oppo money but with the hose going limp and no ties to Squabble our client base is shrinking fast and Mickey is delusional he keeps spending and hiring as if his hiring a masseuse for the office is going to solve our money woes”

“So your wife caught you fucking the masseuse?”

“It was only a blowjob, no big deal, but no Lori left me because I don’t have the cash flow to keep her amused anymore”

“I’m sorry Danny, what can I do to help?”

As soon as I said it I realized what a mistake I had made.  Danny’s problem just became my problem since I knew what was coming next was “the ask”.

“I need to work Leathers”

Now this was going to be tricky. If Dan asked me for a job I was almost duty bound to give him one, but if he couldn’t bring clients with him, his pay would essentially be coming out of my pocket.  I needed to head him off.

“You’re timing is excellent Dan.  I was just talking to one of our clients that owns a crisis management public relations firm based in DC.  They think Ping’s RICO is going to change the way things are done in Albany and they want to acquire a lobbying presence to transition lobby clients into communication clients.  It could be huge, I can make inquiries to see if Dolan and Kerr is a good fit.  Do you think Mickey would be open to a merger or acquisition?”

“I think he has to be since he is running out of checks in his checkbook, let me know what your client says”

I had dodged a bullet now all I had to do was keep dodging till Danny found a job or committed suicide or by some act of God I actually found a crises management firm that was dumb enough to buy a lobbying firm.

“I’m on it Danny, don’t worry God will look after a good catholic boy like you”

“The lobby world has changed Leathers God doesn’t give a fuck for the Irish anymore.  It’s all about the minority vote now”

“It always has been Danny, it always has been”

No sooner did I hang up on Danny then my phone rang again.

The ID said “Communications International Advocates”.  Was this a sign from God?

“Leathers May I help you?”

“I certainly hope so bitch, how’s it hanging?”

“Alex Shimmel, I thought you had died”

“Close, that little study panel stunt you pulled made it touch and go for a bit, I had to go skiing in Chile just to avoid a meeting in Miami”

“Let me get this right Alex, you piss off South American drug lords and your choice of a location to hide out is Chile?”

“Sure the skiing was awesome.  And my guys have all moved to the United States, you want to see drug lords go to Boca you want to avoid them go skiing in Chile.  Anyway after a couple of days they realized the study panel was an act of pure genius since it freezes everything as status quo, and for them status quo is very profitable.  They were so happy with the political solution they asked me to start a new business for them as a crisis management political media firm.  We are going to do what you did all over the country.  First step is they want to acquire Leathers and Lace”

“Sorry Alex but we don’t want partners or bosses but good news is there are a couple of other firms in town that might be a good fit for you’

This was too easy.

“Like who?”

“Before we get to that lets talk fee”

“Your fee?”

“Yes my fee”

“For what? Didn’t you get my voice mail before I went skiing? We fired you after the study panel.  It might have been an overreaction in retrospect but my bosses would never admit a mistake so no more monthly fee for you”

“Which means no more having to do what you tell me to right?”

“I guess, but I thought we were friends”

“We are Alex which is why I’m only going to charge you 10% of the purchase price for any lobby firm I set you up with”

“10%? Deal.  Now who is it?”

“Slow down Alex this is going to be a tough sell give me a little time to set it up”

“You know my bosses. They are not patient men.  By the way who tried to put me in that Times story about hookers?”

“Times story? Hookers?”

“Right Leathers you don’t know anything about putting stories in the media.  That’s why this town needs a good communications firm.  Wait to you see the shit I’m going to stir up.  I might even move to Albany spend some more time in that shitholes walk in freezer, where can a guy rent a luxury apartment? And hire an illegal to be my maid?  Gotta go that’s Barnes and Noble on the other line my copy of McLoweys latest book is in”

“Why are you reading that shit?”

“Reading it? I wrote it for him later bitch”

With skills like that Alex might just become a power in this town.

“Pat can you get Danny on the line?”

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Chapter 24


Alex Shimmel had dropped off the face of the earth.  He had been missing for the last week.  I had tried every number I had for him all his emails, I had even called the CIA’s main switchboard, no one had seen or heard from Alex since he walked out of the Fish and Hunt Club restaurant in Manhattan without paying his bill.  The last person to see him was well known business television commentator Gary Casparino, who claimed Alex had gotten drunk and wandered out muttering that the Fish and Hunt needed a walk in freezer to be a real hot spot.

It was possibly the worst time for Alex to go missing.  While he was skiing in Davos or lying dead in some morgue things were happening fast in Albany. 

I had been able to convince the three men in a room to appoint a study panel to review the medical marijuana dispensaries issue.  The key had been getting Dante to place a story referring to the dispensaries as drug dorms.  The public’s response combined with the fear the governor and the legislative leaders had of Ping’s RICO case resulted in the panel being appointed in record time.  The governor then picked his former counsel, Ken Kline, to be the chairman.  Kline’s claim to fame had been his memorable quote that the administration had three speeds, get along, get paid or get killed.  Kline had spent many years with the governor and had always been the one adult in the room, ever since he left to make a fortune in the private sector he had been McLowey’s go to guy for putting together book deals and putting out fires.  Kline would make sure the panel took it’s time and if history was any roadmap to the future he would also make sure that he figured out a way to profit from whatever findings were eventually released.

All of this was predicated on McLowey staying in office long enough to let Kline manufacture a solution that would have McLowey and Kline get along, get paid and kill their enemies.  And McLowey staying in office was looking less and less certain.

Ping had gotten wind of the Sunday Times story and of some unnamed parties looking into his taxes and had panicked by leaking his upcoming RICO indictment of New York’s government to the Times in the hope it would bounce the sex story from the Sunday edition.  Instead the Times had run both stories side by side on the front page.  As a result over half of the legislature’s spouses had filed for divorce and every one of them was now afraid to transact any business as usual until they saw who Ping actually indicted.

Many of the spouses were now talking on the record to both Ping and the media about their husbands and or wives misuse of their office.  Speaker Washington’s girlfriend was so upset about the piano key orgy that she hand delivered to the media records showing that Washington had received reimbursement for per diems on days his campaign had paid for his visits to a gay karaoke bar in Florida.  After reading the story Ping announced that he had begun another investigation into the misuse of campaign accounts by elected.  The Jewish caucus simultaneously announced that they would do all they could to quote “get the schvartzas” out of the Assembly leadership before they corrupted the entire assembly.  When Washington’s people responded that it was the last three Jewish speakers that had been convicted of corruption the Jewish caucus responded by alleging anti-Semitism by Washington and demanding his resignation.  I still chuckle every time I see the picture of Lev Behuda and Dixie Junkins arguing outside the Assembly chambers.  Lev had Dixie in a headlock while Dixie had Al Sharper on his cellphone.  The smart money was betting on Washington’s resignation and Dixie’s body being found at approximately the same time.

It turned out Hibert’s wife did read the New York Times, at least on Sundays when she liked to look at the advertisements for home furnishings.  The end result was she became so upset about Hibert’s other family that she called his other wife to discuss their children’s future.  Hibert was now obsessed with insuring that all his children would be able to get no show jobs with companies that lobbied him that the rest of the Senators, republicans and democrats alike, were in open revolt since no jobs were available for their friends and family.  It wouldn’t be long before a new majority leader would be selected and given the razor thin majority Hibert’s party presently held it might even be a compromise candidate Like Senator Squabble.  No one respected Squabble or his Brooklyn hipster douchebag persona but everyone agreed a new majority leader that would let every senator do what they wanted without control or supervision would be a welcome change from the hose’s iron fisted control and selfish attitude to graft and corruption.

McLowey was on his way out as well.  He got greedier than usual and sold the book rights to his next book “Profiles in RICO indictments” to a publisher that was actually part of an undercover sting that the U S Attorney for the western district had set up.  McLowey asked Liketysplit to negotiate the deal since Kline was busy with the study panel.  Lickety had sold the book by guaranteeing McLowey would detail all his previous book deals and how he had profited from them.  When told what Lickety had disclosed to the publisher and the U S Attorney’s office in Buffalo all McLowey could say was “fuck me”.  Unlike Washington and Hibert, McLowey was going to fight to stay in office and had announced that he planned to run for president during the next election cycle.  No one expected him to be a serious contender but his candidacy would give him access to federal matching funds to use for his criminal defense and material for his next book “Profiles in Comebacks”. 

Ping was preparing for what would be the trial of the century when he put the entire government on trial for RICO corruption, but nasty rumors from the Times sex story about his use of prostitutes were swirling around the capital.  One young lady had even told the Times that Ping kept his socks on during sex and had monogrammed micro condoms he insisted they use.  The sex stories combined with the allegation that he had violated federal money laundering statutes by investing his micro condom fortune in a chain of Asian grocery stores that were being used to import and sell illegal Chinese counterfeit Hermes pocketbooks had caused Ping to slow down his fund raising.  He was now only fundraising from the private sector and most Albany insiders doubted he would ever be a viable candidate for anything beyond State Senator in the future.

Denny’s predictions were coming true.

The only downside from my perspective to the present situation was that the big ugly had failed to be passed and as a result I had not won my truffle butter bet yet.

But as Cadillac Curtis used to say “In Albany politics the world can change in the time it takes to make a phone call”

My cell phone rang.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Chapters 1 - 23


Chapter 1

It all started with Truffle butter . . . No doubt about it Bobby St Lapierre was one twisted dude.  We had been playing this game since we were staffers in the New York legislature.  What is it now almost 20 years? Bobby and Roland Hooper, Dan Kerr and Sam Casey, Richard Siler and me, Mort Leatherbaum, Leathers to my friends and enemies alike.  The game was simple and over time the only thing that has changed was how much money we played for.  When it was your turn you picked a phrase or a word and the other guys and gal if we were letting Jennifer Corehouse, known to one and all as Jenny Whorehouse, play, would try to get the word or phrase passed in a piece of legislation.  First to get it done won the pot.  Originally when we were poor staffers it was $10 a man, now as everyone’s wealth, other than Sam’s, had grown dramatically it was $5000 a man.

Bobby ran his own one man lobby shop.  He was doing well, primarily because he made a point of sleeping with whichever political leader had the hottest Chief of Staff or Counsel.  This guaranteed that Bobby would be fed a dozen solid clients every session.  Do the math, a dozen clients at $10000 per month was good for $1.44 million in revenue each year.  With his overhead limited to a cell phone, a Porsche and a gay Canadian assistant Bobby had plenty of disposable income but limited future growth opportunities or an exit plan other than a fatal dose of some yet unknown STD.

Roland was a partner in Flecker, Brillstein and Howe, the top litigation firm in Albany.  Roland had convinced David Flecker that a lobbying department within the law firm would be very profitable and he was right.  With the firm feeding it’s corporate clients to Roland to service as a lobbyist and Roland hiring the best and brightest law grads to do his research and analysis, FBH had built a reputation as a solid lobby shop.  Meticulous about being legally correct but not always aggressive enough or creative enough to get it done.  If you had an issue with a 60% approval rating FBH could get your legislation passed if you had a tough one you hired me.

Dan was partners with Mickey Dolan in Dolan and Kerr PC.  Mickey had been Counsel to 3 previous Senate Majority Leaders, had hired most of the senior staff at the senate and was hated by the minority in the Senate and the majority in the Assembly and could care less.  If you wanted Senate support for a bill you hired Dolan and Kerr at $10000 per month if you wanted to stop the other side from passing legislation you hired Dolan and Kerr at $20000 per month.  Business was good and as long as Mickey was breathing Dan could expect to receive his $750000 a year salary.

Sam was Assemblyman Munro’s Chief of Staff.  Munro was one of the few white assemblyman that still had power.  Munro had survived the purge that occurred when the previous speaker Benny Weiss was forced from office after his indictment on a federal bribery charge.  Munro also survived when the Speaker before Weiss, Milton Jacobs had been forced from office after his role in a municipal labor union’s kickback scheme had been reported in the New York Times.  Munro also survived when the Speaker before Weiss and Jacobs, Arthur Roth had been convicted on a federal theft of honest services charge for his role in a consulting business that had several clients that received member items from Roth.  Munro’s main skill was as a survivor, and Sam’s main skill was in telling Munro who the next indictment was coming down against.  How Sam knew was a talent known only to Sam and me.  Sam made his $120000 a year as a top staffer in the Assembly and he owed me and he knew it.  As long as Sam was in my debt he was a valuable resource.  Sam would never receive a better job offer as long as I could prevent it and I planned on preventing it forever.

Richard now worked as a top lobbyist for the Albany office of a national lobby firm, Jackson and Brickner.  Richard was good, some would say better than me.  I didn’t believe it but Richard did.  We had been associates together a decade ago.  Made a ton of money, basically ruled this town but you could only live with so many showdowns of whose dick was bigger before the envy ruined the partnership.  Now we just took turns topping the lists of top lobbyists.  Mostly we just took turns trying to fuck each other over.

Jenny wasn’t in this pot, I think because Bobby was presently fucking her and my guess is “truffle butter” was his sick inside joke to let us know about his most recent sexual proclivities.  Jenny was the in-house lobbyist for the New York Business Improvement Alliance.  She was also my favorite travel companion for out of town conferences.  She was also Richard’s ex-wife, which made the out of town conferences twice as much fun.

No matter, with $50000 to the winner I would figure out a way to get “truffle butter” in a piece of legislation.  Not only that I planned to bill one of my firm’s clients at least another $25000 to do it.  I am, humbly and simply put God’s gift to the lobbying community.  Mort Leatherbaum, name partner in Leatherbaum & Lacewell, the top lobbying firm in Albany.  Known to one and all as Leathers and Lace.  Jim Lacewell was my partner and 25 years ago it was his money that started the firm, now everytime I saw his Bentley parked with the valet downstairs at 666 Broadway where our office was located all I could think of was the $1.3 million he sucked out of the firm each year.  Jim couldn’t find the capital at this point with a search party and a map much less get a bill passed but he did play to a 3 handicap and belonged to 4 different country clubs and the client’s trusted him so for the foreseeable future I would remain a partner with Jim at Leathers and Lace, keep paying Jim his $1.3 million and keep figuring out ways to use the firm’s clients to pay me millions each year in side deals and stock options. 

It was one of Jim’s client’s that I was targeting to pay me a $25000 bonus for getting truffle butter a tax exemption.  The Food Shopping Channel Inc. had been paying us $10000 a month for the last 3 years to lobby for and against various issues that effected their business in New York.  Now it was time for New York to pass a bill exempting truffle butter and 4 or 5 other products from sales tax, one of which would be sold by The Food Shopping Channel Inc..  But first things first, I had to amend our agreement with The Food Shopping Channel Inc. to include a bonus for passing this tax exemption. 

I asked my assistant Pat to get me Ronald Hawksbille III on the phone.  Trey, as he was known to his elitist friends had been the CEO of The Food Shopping Channel Inc. for the last 4 years ever since his father, Ronald Hawksbille Jr. had put him in charge.

 “Ronnie, have I got a deal for you”

“Every time you say that it costs me money Leathers”

“And every time it costs you money I get you a 10x return on that investment”

“True dat” Why do rich spoiled white boys have to speak like they are in a rap video I wondered.

“What’s the largest volume seller on your website Ronnie?”

“How the fuck would I know Leathers?  I’m not even sure I know the address of the website why?”

“Don’t worry why just find out and call me back, word is The Big Guy (Governor McClowey) is planning a new tax exemption bill to be introduced to benefit New York online retailers so let’s make sure we get a piece of it”

“Why would he help us?”

Lord almighty Ronald was one dumb motherfucker.

“He’s going to help us because I am that good, and you are going to pay me an extra $25000 when I make it happen, deal?”

“You make it happen and I’ll give Leathers & Lace a $25000 bonus”

“No I make it happen and you and I are going to play one game of tennis for $25000 cash and I’m going to win”

“But Leathers you know I don’t play tennis”

“That’s why I’m going to win”

Not to mention that’s how I’m going to avoid sharing with Lace and how I’m going to avoid the contingent fee prohibition in the Lobby Act, not that anyone at the Lobby Agency would ever dream of investigating me much less prosecuting me.

As a bonus I’ll convince that idiot Ronnie to hire the Governor’s latest slam piece as a spokeswomen on The Food Shopping Channel Inc.  Combine that with a campaign contribution to Speaker Washington, the first black Speaker in New York’s history in the Assembly, by the way how great was it that the going rate for the previous Jewish speakers was a $50000 campaign donation but Washington could be rented for a measly $5000, add in a trip to Puerto Rico for the Senate Majority leader, paid for by one of my clients numerous 501c4 business development charities and “truffle butter” was as good as passed.

And not to confuse anyone I will enjoy spending the money I win but it’s not about the money it’s about winning or more precisely it’s about my friends losing.

Because in this town not losing makes you a winner.

As my mentor Cadillac Curtis always told me.  “It only take two things to be a successful lobbyist, avoid responsibility for your mistakes and take credit for the success of others, before they do.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

“Pat tell Murray to get in here ASAP”

Before the words were out of my mouth I saw Murray Kaplan striding down the hallway to my office.  Murray was a shorter, fatter, younger version of me with less hair a $400 dollar suit that was trying hard to look like a $4000 suit and a $15 shirt from Kohl’s that ruined any attempt to look professional.  But Murray was smart and reliable, he had been my top associate for 4 years now and one of these days he would try to move up in the firm.  It would never happen and he would end up leaving to start his own lobby practice with 4 or 5 clients that he thought he had stolen but in reality were dogs with fleas that I needed to get rid of because they either didn’t pay their bills on time or were just a general pain in my ass with no upside.  It happened every 5 years or so and when it did I would find another Murray but for now Murray was my go to.

“Murray I need you to draft a tax exemption bill for 5 online food sale products, make sure one is truffle butter and call Ronald Hawksbille to verify what he thinks is his top seller, add it to the bill and then fill out the list with three or four other products not sold by any of our clients or any other lobbyists clients.  Make sure that shitty Greek yogurt Chubbsonme doesn’t meet the definition for exemption”

“You still mad boss that Mr. Siler signed Chubbsonme?”

“Fuckoff Murray don’t be a wise ass now go back to your hole and draft me a bill”

As I spun around in my chair, a chair by the way that used to belong to Arthur Ross when he was Speaker, a chair that I won from Roth in a card game in Roth’s office decades ago, I saw my cellphone light up with an incoming call from Andy Carp of the FBI.

Fuck this day had been going so well.

“What’s up Andy?”

“Meet me for coffee at Eggy’s Diner”

“Can’t do it I’m booked all day”

“$2652345”

“What’s that?”

“the amount in your Key Bank checking account, do you want me to tell you how much you have in the other eight bank accounts you have in the states and the off shore accounts?”

“I’ll see you at Eggy’s in 20 minutes”

“I’ll be waiting”

I’d known Andy Carp since we were kids. We grew up in the same suburban town.  He had been in the FBI since I was a young legislative staffer, he had made more federal corruption cases in Albany than all the other agents combined he also was the agent that busted me 15 years ago for trying to entice, Andy and the government said bribe, a mid level senator.  Bribing run of the mill legislators is a large risk small reward move in the lobbying world.  As I gained experience and insight I learned the only people worth bribing were top level players who were smart enough to not accept a straight bag of cash, they required more artistry and finesse but back then I thought a thick envelope to Senator “Egomaniac I plan to be President someday” was the way to go.  

I literally pissed myself ruining a brand new Armani suit when Andy knocked on my door at 730 in the morning as I was on my way to the office. Why do they always do that?  It must be in some law enforcement training tape from the old KGB library.  Two or three robots in blue suits and conservative haircuts at the door telling you your life is over if you don’t cooperate.  What you should do is tell them to fuck off politely and call your lawyer.  But as I think back on it Andy was alone and smiling.  I’ve only seen Andy smile when somebody was getting hurt or was in mortal danger.  I think Andy’s idea of relaxation is watching ISIS beheadings.  Andy alone and smiling is a dangerous opportunity.

After I changed my suit Andy explained the facts of life and that I had a choice.  I could be convicted of mail fraud and do 2 years in a federal prison or I could help him set up legislators and stay out of jail and continue my meteoric rise to power.  It was an easy decision.  And I’ve regretted it every time Andy called for coffee.

As I went down the elevator to the parking garage to collect my Audi A8L from the valet I couldn’t help but think how the Audi perfectly complimented my philosophy about lobbying.  It was beautiful in an understated sought of way, its engineering was impeccable and compared to Lace’s Bentley drew half the attention but always worked.  In other words it represented the best in class and didn’t give a fuck who thought otherwise.  I slid into the gorgeous ox blood red leather seats put the heated gear shift in drive and let the 400 horsepower w12 engine purr as I glided from the parking garage and onto the pot holed streets of downtown Albany, Christ it was like being in Baghdad or Troy.  It took 15 minutes to get to Eggy’s diner.  Eggy’s was a shithole, it was overpriced and the food was terrible the only thing it had going for it was a parking lot behind the Diner like a no tell motel and a guarantee that nobody I knew in politics would see us there together.

Andy was already there at the corner table, back to the wall in the gunfighter’s seat.  He did that on purpose, not because he wanted to sit there but because he knew I did.  He was dressed like every other FBI agent I’ve ever met or seen.  Dark blue suit, white shirt and a dark blue tie.  Conservative haircut and a decent pair of black shoes with plain black socks.  Andy had a cup of coffee and an overpriced chef’s salad in front of him.  I sat and ordered a coffee, no way was I eating anything here.

As I watched Andy open a sugar packet and pour it into his coffee I noticed he took a handful of sugar packets and dropped them in his coat pocket, without a hint of shame, the cheap fucker.

Andy got right to the point, he always did unless he was threatening me. 

“So Mort do you still represent Ravi Kamatrappa?”

Ravi was the head of the research arm of The Albany Institute for Technology.  He was supposed to be a professor and an expert in micro dot technology.  All I really knew about Ravi was that he showed up about 20 years ago from some southern collage I had never heard of wearing thousand dollar cowboy boots with blue jeans and driving a beat up Lexus, he still wore the cowboy boots and jeans but now drove a McLaren.  Somehow he had parlayed his line of bullshit into a series of state grants, arranged by yours truly, and now Ravi was pulling down over a million dollars a year in salary and had control of a 300 million dollar pot of state money to build out the infrastructure needed to manufacture micro dots or whatever other imaginary product he was pedaling.  If Ravi was a con man he was one of the great ones and he had me on retainer to the tune of $30000 per month which he paid like clockwork.  But if Andy was asking, Ravi just became a soon to be former client.

“Mr. Kamatrappa is a valued client of my firm”

“You know he got arrested last night DWI on the Northway with a 17 year old coed blowing him?”

“In the McLaren?  She must be a gymnast”

“Not the McLaren in his wife’s Jaguar”

“No shit”  Now the fact Ravi was with a coed didn’t surprise me he was renowned as a world class swordsman but the fact that he didn’t call me to get him out of trouble was a bad sign.

“Yup and do you know who bailed him out of jail and is representing him”

“Why would I give a fuck?”

“Because it was your old running mate Dickie Siler.  He had Bob Haxter with him to act as Ravi’s criminal defense lawyer.  That’s a lot of star power for a DUI and a blowjob don’t you think?”

Ravi called Richard not me.  Not only was Ravi soon to be an ex-client but if I had anything to say about it he was soon to be in prison.  But first things first I needed to find out what Richard was up to, and I needed to find out what Andy wanted and I needed to give a lot more thought to all the shady deals I had helped Ravi set up, especially the Oxford Road Development Group that Ravi was running all the construction contracts for his micro dot manufacturing plant thru.  And I knew right where to start.  I would meet Bob Haxter for drinks.

Bob was a former AUSA that went into private practice about 10 years ago.  His firm did criminal defense especially white collar cases and personal injury law.  I’d sent him quite a bit of work over the years and I knew the only thing he loved to talk about more than himself was his client’s troubles.

As I glanced back at Andy I noticed he was starting to smile.

“So let’s talk about Ravi after you have a chance to think about how much you want to help the FBI . . . again”

Before I could respond Andy stood up and left without saying a word.  And of course without paying.  These FBI guys were cheaper than the legislators they were always trying to jam up, at least your average legislator would pay for breakfast from their campaign account that you had just donated to.

Cheap bastards.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

When I got back from Eggy’s my assistant Pat had a stack of phone messages for me and a termination letter from Ravi, which at least solved one problem.

Pat had been with me from the start, everywhere I have gone she has followed.  She was in her mid-fifties now and still an attractive women.  I first met her when I started in the legislature and she was working for then Senator now dead Senator Vito Falcon.  Falcon was actually a pretty solid guy by Albany standards, a wife and kids, no mistresses and no out of wedlock children.  For Albany legislators that made him eligible for saint hood.  But Vito did enjoy having a lot of pretty women work for him.  They were known in the halls of the capital as Falcon’s angels and many young male staffers called his office Candyland.  Pat was one of Falcons angels but of the high end variety.  I still remember the day I went to deliver something to the Senator and one of the angels was working as the receptionist at a glass desk with no underwear and a miniskirt.  The mere thought of her shaven vagina on display brought a smile to my face, this was after all 20 years ago when the full bush was in vogue and a shaven vagina was only found in pornos and California.  What was her name?  Lisa something or other.

“What are you smiling about” Pat asked

“Just thinking about how underpaid you are”

“That’s complete horseshit, I’m not underpaid in fact you pay me about 50% too much it’s the main reason I’m still here”

She was right, apart from Karrie Jones’s lobby firm Leathers and Lace paid some of the highest support staff salaries in Albany.  And Karrie Jones only paid more because in her twisted mind if she paid the most that somehow meant she had the best staff. 

“After a meeting at Eggy’s only 2 things would make you smile, either you thought of a way to ruin Richard’s life or you are thinking about that little slut Lisa Taggert’s miniskirt from Vito’s office”

God that women is scary good at what she does.

“Fuck off Pat and get me a meeting with Bob Haxter for drinks at 9 at the Groverneurs club, a table where everyone can see us.  And bill Ravi an extra $60000 as a termination fee, copy all his files, put the copies in the trunk of the Audi and shred the originals”

“So it’s both Lisa’s miniskirt and screwing Richard, well enjoy yourself but be careful”

As I sat at my desk I started to read the phone messages, there were 17 plus the 30 voice mails I had ignored on my cell phone which meant I’d be busy for the next couple of hours.

That was another lesson Cadillac Curtis had taught me, return every phone call within 4 hours.  If you weren’t going to return it by then throw the message away it wasn’t worth returning.

The first call on top of the pile was from Roland.

This would be boring but might be profitable.

“Roland what can I help you with today?”

“Well first thing how am I supposed to get truffle butter in a bill?  I had to ask my 14 year old daughter what it meant because I heard it in a Niki Minage song she had playing in the car.  Do you know what truffle butter is?  My god I will never forgive Bobby.  My daughter thinks and I quote her now that I’m a creeper.  My wife says I need counseling and wanted to know how I even knew to ask what it was.  And then told me in no uncertain terms I would never and I repeat never be able to even see her naked again much less create any truffle butter”

I merely chuckled, Roland’s wife had to be one of the nicest women in our social circle and my guess was if Roland knew even the slightest thing about women she would have been more than happy to can some truffle butter for him.  But Roland knew less about women than anyone I’ve ever met.

“Yea that’s going to be a tuff one to win, Rollie, maybe do a sexual harassment bill”

“I can’t ask any of my associates to research truffle butter much less write it into a bill that I could get passed but that’s not why I called, we have a conflict with one of our corporate clients.  They have a small research division that wants to compete for one of the medical marijuana licenses.  That’s just not the type of work we want to be involved with, drug dealing is not within the scope of our expertise”

No shit I thought.

“Who’s the client and what will they pay?”

“It’s Masilla Corp. and they should be good for $5000 a month plus a bonus if they get a license”

“You know that bonuses for lobbying are illegal Roland”

“And yet you keep collecting them”

“I have the best compliance consultant on retainer, you should try him”

“Denny Dejardin? That fucking guy is crazy how can you trust him?”

“He is crazy and he is a genius and I’ve never met anyone I trusted more as long as he gets his monthly fee”

“Whatever, FBH would no sooner hire him than we would represent drug dealers”

Which was why Leathers and Lace made 5 times the profit FBH did.

“Have Masilla call me, do you want a piece as a referral fee?”

“Not a referral fee but if I lose this bet I’d appreciate it if you would cover half of it”

“Consider it done Roland”

Next on the pile of phone messages was Sean Flynn, all 5 foot 3 inches of him, the mini mick as he was known behind his back. He was In house counsel at PonyXpress a startup company trying to rip off the Uber app by using a network of drivers traveling for personal business to deliver packages, supposedly cheaper and quicker than FedEx or UPS.  I don’t know if it is real and they could only afford a $2500 a month retainer to get a bill passed limiting their liability to the drivers in their system.  They had enough funding for 6 more months so no reason to call the mini mick back today, throw that one away.

And so it went for the next hour or so.  In the end I had two messages I still needed to return.  One was Flick Feerdom the CEO of Patsy Whitney Inc. one of my largest and oldest clients the other was Richard Siler.  I had to do Flick first because I could not risk talking to Richard and being upset when I spoke to Flick but Flick never did anything fast which meant that was going to be a 30 minute call.

I had an idea.

I dialed Richards’s cell.

“Siler” he answered.

“Hey Dick its Leathers GO FUCK YOURSELF” and I hung up and quickly called Flick.

Let Richard think about that for a bit.

The call with Flick took 23 minutes, involved scheduling two conference calls with his outside and inside counsels and an appearance before his board next week.  All to make sure the Senate Majority Leader would not publicly support eliminating the LLC loophole from campaign finance reform legislation.  Flick had at least 60 LLCs he used to make campaign contributions and didn’t want the risk of any politician closing his loophole.  The Senate Majority Leader, Homer “the hose” Hibert was no more likely to close the loophole than he was to let the minority in the senate have decent office space but Flick didn’t need to know that.

Hibert was an interesting guy.  He was known as “the hose” by those in the media for his reputation of helping all the volunteer fire departments in upstate New York with member item money.  He was known as “the hose” by those of us in the lobby world that really knew him and his many, many girlfriends for the size of his legendary penis.  The last time I checked in the clubs locker room it had to be 11 inches long if it was an inch.  Lord knows how big it got when it was angry.  Many a female staffer had to take time off after serving on the senator’s staff.  The only bigger dick than Hiberts penis was his son Oscar.  Oscar had the intelligence of a slug and the creativity to match.  He was presently the town clerk in East Bumblefuck or some such town in Daddy’s senate district.  But young Oscar wanted more, he wanted to be a lobbyist.  And “the hose” made sure we all knew it.  “The hose” expected a bidding war for Oscar’s services and the top ten firms would all have to bid.  The loser in this case was whoever bid the most and had to hire Oscar.  The only catch was “the hose” was going to review all the bids.  Piss off “the hose” by bidding too little or not bidding at all and you and your clients would be dead in the senate until “the hose” was either dead or in federal prison.  But I had an idea I just needed to talk to “the hose” privately and show him a better way for Oscar to get rich, for the rest of us to stay rich, for “the hose” not to get angry and for no one to go to jail, other than Richard if things went just right.

No more putting off the call to Richard.

I dialed his cell again.

“Siler and don’t you ever tell me to fuck off again”

“FUCK OFF” and I hung up.  I crack myself up.

My cell rang it was Richard.

“Leathers, how can I help you?”

“What is your fucking problem?”

“Richard what are you talking about?”

“You just told me to fuck off and hung up on me . . . twice!”

“Are you back on the mushrooms again Richard?  I haven’t spoken to you in a week why would I? I’d rather slam my dick in a car door than talk to you”

“You just called me”

“No I didn’t, get professional help Richard I think you are cracking under the stress”

“Fuck you, I only called to get Ravi’s files”

“What files?”

“You know what files, Ravi’s research and deal files for your work for him”

“Richard I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about I don’t have any Ravi files in fact I don’t have any client named Ravi.” Then I hung up on him for the third time.

Maybe instead of solving “the hose’s” employment issue for his son I’d just rig the bidding to make sure Richard hired the little shit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

This town runs on rumors and innuendos.

And it was time for Ravi, Richard and Andy to become part of those rumors and innuendos.

The best part about a rumor was that once it was printed in the paper or reported on television it would take on a life of its own.  And anyone who was the subject would react, either publicly or privately but they would react.  And that reaction was priceless information especially if you knew how the rumor started.

The key to creating a top notch rumor that could be reported as a scandal was in giving the media just enough facts to make the rumor seem plausible and just enough sizzle to give the media a hook to bite.

The second most important part of creating a scandal that started with a rumor was to have plausible deniability.  The subject of the rumors first reaction would be to try to find out who “leaked” the story.  They never would but that’s what they always do first.

Cadillac Curtis had taught me from the beginning that the only way two people could keep a secret was if one of them was dead.

Apply that to scandal rumors and all you had to do was tell one person a secret and by the time it was printed nobody could ever prove where it started.

Now there are lots of ways to plant a story with the media but the best way I knew of was to tell Dante Dorr a story and swear him to secrecy.  If you told Donnie at 10 am by 2 pm it was being reported as fact by at least three news outlets.

Dante had been around Albany forever.  He was a reporter at the student run Albany College newspaper focusing on state politics.  He mixed his average reporting talents with his slightly above average baseball talents to become the starting centerfielder on then lieutenant governor Mario Mazzone’s coed softball team in the prestigious legislative correspondents’ beer league.  Dante was a slap hitter with good speed which also described his reporting skills and made him a perfect fit for the Associated Press whom he began working for after graduation.  Dante would slap out a so so story and then immediately move to the next story without any follow up.  After a year at the AP he moved on to become the statehouse reporter for Albany’s flagship paper the Times Union, known to its shrinking base of readers and advertisers as the Times Useless.  When Mazzone became governor Dante reunited as his assistant public information officer and starting centerfielder on Mazzone’s new coed softball team in the prestigious legislative correspondents beer league.  Dante stayed with Mazzone for five years rising in both the governors’ hierarchy at the capital and in the batting order.  When he finally had to stop playing softball as a result of a severe groin pull he was batting cleanup, still a slap hitter but with enough leverage to guarantee his spot in the order.  And he simultaneously had to resign from the governor’s staff as a result of leaking a story to the New York Post about his own failure to spellcheck a press release that spelled Mazzone’s name wrong, he had risen to become the governor’s director of communications.  Following his resignation and the numerous leaked stories of potential corruption investigations resulting from the misspelled name on the press release, all centered around the governors use of Dante’s state position to write a press release related to Mazzone’s use of the state airplane to allegedly meet with the Washington National baseball team to allegedly discuss Mazzone’s future hiring as the Washington National’s general manager.  A completely fabricated story to provide cover for Mazzone’s real reason for using the state airplane to travel to Washington to meet and have a liaison with an underage Indonesian male prostitute.   Dante caught on as a public relations specialist at White Smoke Communications a small communications firm with ties to Governor McLoweys niece Shelly Gold. 

Some would argue that McLowey benefitted the most from Mazzone’s fall from power as he was able to parlay his investigation as Attorney General into Mazzone and the prostitute into his present position as Governor.

Be that as it may Dante knew everybody and talked to his friends and enemies (whom he still thought were his friends) in the press all the time.

With that thought in mind I called Dante in his office and spoke to his secretary.

“Is Dante available?”

“Certainly, hold on a sec Mr. Leathers and I’ll tell him you are on the phone”

“Leathers what do you know what do you hear?”

Dante’s standard salutation.  I could picture him at his desk wearing yellow lensed sunglasses with four computer screens fired up and five cell phones in front of him.

“You have to keep this between us Dante, it very sensitive”

“Of course Leathers you have my word”

“I got a call from Richard Siler last night, his niece was arrested for a DWI on the Northway and she was driving a stolen car owned by Ravi Kamatrappa’s development company Oxford Road Development”

“Wow”

“That’s not the worst of it the FBI is investigating Oxford Road for some kind of insider trading deal related to their purchase of state land around that new micro dot factory Ravi is building”

“How do you know the FBI is investigating/”

“Richard told me when the state police impounded the jaguar she was driving they found one of those tracking devices with, get this, a tag that said property of the FBI please return if found, those cheap bastards”

“Do you know who is leading the investigation for the feds?”

“No but my guess is Andy Karp he does all the public corruption cases”

“Wow that’s a big story”

“Dante you can’t tell a soul, Richard swore me to secrecy he is mortified with embarrassment that his 17 year old niece would have stolen a car”

“Why would his niece have stolen that particular car?”

“I have no clue Dante and no way am I going to embarrass Richard further by asking questions.  Gotta run, later.”

By the time Dante was done making calls and these idiots in the media asked the wrong questions a shit storm should fall on Richard, Ravi, Andy and some 17 year old coed whose only sin had been blowing Ravi.

Little did I know that a large Israeli gentleman named Lev Bacuma would also get splashed with the shit from the shit storm and come looking for revenge.  But that was the nature of a rumor you never knew where it would lead.

Before I left to meet Bob Haxter for drinks I had one last loose end to attend to.

I called Dan Kerr on his private line.

“Hey Danny how’s it hanging?”

“Good, good did you hear about Richard’s car getting stolen?”

I smiled, count on Dante to be Dante.  He was fast but the game of telephone always resulted in a different story coming out the end of the pipe.

“Really who did you hear that from?”

“The hose’s press guy just asked me about it”

“No shit.  Speaking of the hose I need a favor”

“Name it”

“Can you get me into a foursome with the hose this week?  We can play at my club in East Greenbush, make it me you the hose and I’ll bring Rocky Schwartz.”

Rocky owned more developable real estate in upstate New York than anyone.  He was also 6’5” tall and hung like a gerbil.  He was my client but I knew Dan would like nothing better than to spend 5 hours with Rocky on the golf course and try to sign him as a client of Dolan and Kerr.

“Sure on one condition”

“What’s that?”

“You ride with the hose and I put Rocky in my cart”

“You got it.  Let me know what day the hose wants to play”

“You sure Rocky will be available?”

“Count on it.  He is in the middle of some deal that needs senate support he’ll be there trying to get you and Mickey on board cheap”

“Ok I’ll call you back as soon as I lock the hose in”

I hung up and hit the intercom.

“Pat I’ll see you tomorrow I’m going to meet Bob Haxter for drinks>”

“I know I made your reservation remember.  And take my advice don’t drink too much and go straight home after, I hear there are a lot of coeds out there that will steal your car if you aren’t careful”

God Pat was really good at her job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

The Grovenours Club wasn’t really a club, it was a restaurant in downtown Albany where the political movers and shakers and wannabe movers and shakers gathered.  The food was surprisingly good and the host/owner Jellybean Iorizzo treated the lobbyists and legislators like members of a private club. Jelly was a genius when it came to who sat where and who not to sit next to one another.  The Grove, as we called it, was like the Balkans and Jelly was the master diplomat.  Most importantly the last member of the media that tried to eat at the Grove was sick for 3 weeks with explosive diarrhea from a bad batch of clams.  I’ve never known anyone to get sick from the Groves food other than members of the media. Suffice to say that combined with the outrageously high prices that only lobbyists and the legislators campaign accounts could afford made the Grove our private club for all intents and purposes and provided a large amount of privacy from the public, of course it provided no privacy from the other members.

“Leathers how good to see you again”

“Really Jelly? I was just here for lunch yesterday”

“I know but we expected to see you for lunch today.  I was worried that perhaps you had found another restaurant to frequent”

“Now why would I do that, Jelly?”

“Perhaps because Mr. Siler was in for lunch and made a point of requesting your usual table”

“And did you let him sit there Jelly?”

“Of course not, we just happened to have to remove several of the chairs at your table for cleaning.”

“And is Mr. Siler here this evening?”

“Not yet but I expect him later.  Would you like him near or far from you?”

“As far away as you can Jelly but make sure he sees me.  Anyone else of interest here tonight?”

“Mr. Haxster is waiting for you at your table, he’s already two drinks ahead of you, The big guy is just finishing dinner, the hose has come and gone and there are a couple of unpleasant large Israeli gentlemen waiting for Mr. Siler.  They are just finishing their order of raw clams.  I don’t expect they will be staying for dinner”

Now that was interesting information.

“Who made their reservation Jelly?”

“They didn’t have one, they just arrived and demanded to be seated while they waited for Mr. Siler, as I said they are unpleasant fellows.  They are also armed”

“Law enforcement Jelly? That could prove unsettling”

“I doubt it, their suits are very expensive and not a single one has tried to steal the sugar packets”

“You don’t have sugar packets”

“That’s true but I was trying to be discrete by implying they aren’t cheap.  The one who can speak English gave me a $100 bill as a gratuity”

“And what did you give him in return Jelly?”

“A recommendation to try the raw clams”

“You are a funny guy Jelly, You aren’t worried that large men with guns may hold you responsible for their intestinal misfortune?”

“Not a bit, my Uncle Vince and his associates are dining here as well this evening’”

The fact that the Grove was most likely secretly owned by the Iorizzo faction of the Fabiano crime family lent a little spice and danger to the place.  I was always careful to be friendly and polite to Jelly and never ask for a business favor, the last thing you wanted in this town was to owe a favor to the Fabiano’s. 

Cadillac Curtis always told me Albany politics was like the mafia when it came to outsiders.  We would go to war with one another but outsiders, especially law enforcement would get a unified Armani wall of silence.  He also said don’t confuse the amateur gangsters that were elected to office with the real thing.  The Fabiano’s were the real thing.  I’d help Karp with the amateurs, I had no choice, but heaven forbid he ever expected me to help with the pros.

On my way to my table I saw Governor “the big guy” McLowey sitting with his brother-in-law Larry Truesdale.  Larry was the head of the Public Corruption Committee as well as the governor’s brother-in-law.  Only in Albany would such a relationship not only be tolerated but would go unquestioned by the media.  The head of the ethics commission related to the head of the executive branch, not only that but Larry’s wife, who was the governors sister was the chief executive officer of a small not for profit that received millions of dollars in state funds as a result of her lobbying efforts.  It’s tough to say no to the governor’s sister.  Plus the not for profit did good work helping unwed mothers find employment in local government.  If I remember correctly it was called “Mothers In Local Foundations Fixing an Unhealthy Current Krisis”.  I could never figure out why they spelled crisis with a K”

Bob was waiting at my table.  Bob easy to spot.  He was of average height but had to weigh close to 350 pounds.  His custom suit was expertly tailored so he looked like a former football lineman but even the best tailor couldn’t hide his immense girth.  The other notable feature Bob had was almost a complete lack of hair not even eyebrows, it made him look like a giant cue ball.  Bob had been an assistant US attorney in the Northern District for a long time.  He was rumored to be in line to replace the former US attorney Gary Sudsberry when Sudsberry was nominated to a federal judgeship.  But Haxster was accused, anonymously, of tanking the investigation and prosecution of the former majority leader, Woodrow Andrews.  Andrews would eventually be tried on a watered down charge of theft of honest services for his support of a bill to allow legalized prostitution in his home town of Binghamton.   He was acquitted when the US Attorney’s office could not prove that Andrews benefited financially from the introduction of the legislation.  The fact that Andrews had invested heavily in real estate in Binghamton’s renowned red light district and sold all his property at a huge profit when the bill was introduced or that Andrews wife, a former prostitute, had planned to return to her former occupation, never saw the light of day, thanks to Bob’s investigative work along with numerous off the record meetings Bod had with Andrews, his lawyers and the head of the state party.  Sudsberry got his federal judgeship and Bob had to leave the US attorney’s office, but he had a soft landing he went to work for the same law firm that had represented Andrews and counted among its name partners the head of the state party.  Only Andy Karp and I knew where the anonymous allegation about Haxster originated.  Andy didn’t like losing and the Andrews case still pissed him off since he was the lead investigator for the FBI and had originated the case with a helping hand from yours truly. 

“Bob thanks for coming”

“Sure thing Leathers, anytime, you send a lot of business my way the least I can do is have dinner with you, especially since you are paying”

It was only supposed to be drinks but all these law enforcement guys past and present where cheap motherfuckers.

“It’s always my pleasure Bob you should try the raw clams as an appetizer, Jelly tells me they are superb tonight”

“Can’t tonight, I’m on a new diet no seafood”

“That’s a shame.  Well anyway I hear you were busy last night, since when did Richard and Ravi start using you?”

“That was my first case with either one.  I just happened to be with Richard at the backgammon club when Ravi called him”

“Since when do you play backgammon?”

“I don’t, Richard suggested we meet there to discuss his firm developing a relationship with my firm”

“And Ravi called Richard?”

“Yes it was quite the coincidence, I could hear Ravi crying on the phone and Richard told him to relax, that he was with the town’s best criminal defense lawyer and we could be there in 30 minutes to bail him out.”

“Lucky thing for Ravi huh?

“You bet, I don’t know many lawyers that could have gotten him released without any record being kept of his arrest You know he got caught blowing a .15 while being blown”

“And I hear the girl was one of his students”

“Nope”

“So it’s true she was Richards’s niece?”

“Richard’s niece?  Not a chance this chick was a pro and a high end one at that”

A prostitute, that was an interesting twist, I’d never known Ravi to use prostitutes.

“A pro? Are you sure? I thought Ravi prided himself on his skills as a swordsman”

“No no no Ravi didn’t know her occupation he kept saying that he was at some party when the girl came on to him.  I only knew because the firm had represented her before”

“You represented her before on a prostitution charge?”

“Not me but the firm did several times”

“She can afford your firm?”

“I doubt it but she works for the Kings Klub, they are a very expensive escort service”

Now that was something I could check out after dinner.  Every Tuesday night I had a standing appointment with a $500 an hour relaxation consultant, hooker to use vulgar slang.  We no longer relaxed instead we just talked, my own private therapy sessions.  Jamie Ash was my relaxation therapist.  She was also a lapsed Amish beauty from Bird-in-Hand Pennsylvania.  If it wasn’t for the fact that Jenny took strangers cock in hand for a living I would have spent a lot more time with her.  As it was I looked forward to our Tuesday evenings as a way to talk things out with someone whom I was afraid I had actually let get to know the real me.  That was dangerous for a guy like me.

“That must have been quite the scene at the police station huh?’

“Leathers I’ve seen a lot of guys shit themselves when they get arrested but I’ve never seen a grown man act like such a pussy over a DWI.  Ravi was ranting that someone named Lev had set him up.  That the Israeli mob would kill him.  That it was all Richards fault for getting him involved with drug dealers in the first place”

“What did Richard do when he heard that?”

“Nothing he wasn’t in the room with Ravi and I.  When he came in Ravi shut up.  We got him out and Richard drove him home in the Jaguar and I drove myself home.  Haven’t really spoken to either one since last night”

At that moment Richard walked in, the Israeli’s ran to the men’s room and I told Bob I had to meet another client, but the dinner was already on my account so enjoy.

On my way out I stopped to chat with Jelly again.

“Hey Jelly have you heard any gossip about Ravi Kamatrappa and drug dealers?”

“Ravi and drugs?  I haven’t but I could check with my Uncle if you like”

“No don’t go to any trouble I was just curious”

“Still afraid to ask Vince for a favor huh Leathers?  Well now you’ve made me curious maybe I’ll do a little snooping around myself, you can’t be too careful these days about who frequents your restaurant.  The last thing I want is Ravi bringing law enforcement attention to the grove, I can’t afford to have those cheap bastards listening in on my customers or stealing my silverware”

I chuckled as I waited for the valet to bring my Audi to the curb.

Twenty minutes later I was in Jamie’s $2500 a month loft overlooking Albany enjoying a cup of coffee while Jamie brought out homemade biscotti for us to share.

“Mort you look like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, is Mr. Karp trying to get you to implicate one of your friends again?”

“Jamie you know I don’t have friends but yes Andy is trying to get me to help him catch a corrupt politician again”

“But isn’t that what he is supposed to do?  And shouldn’t you do everything you can to help him clean up Albany?”

“It’s complicated but let me ask you a question what do you know about the Kings Klub?”

“The Kings Klub is a very high end escort service, they charge more than I do but the girls only keep 20% of the fee the rest goes to the Jews that run it.  Mean vicious Jews, not Jewish like you are but like real Jews.  But not the Jews that wear those little hats or have the long sideburns more like the Jews that look like they are in the Army but not our Army like the Jewish Army, do you know what I mean?”

I smiled because I knew exactly what she meant.

“You mean they were Israeli?”

“I don’t know where they came from, I meant that they were more like Jelly’s uncle than your uncle, more mob goon than bagel eater, no offense”

“None taken but don’t be so sure my Jewish family doesn’t have some tough guys in it.  My mother always told me that on her side of the family we had relatives that were in “Murder Inc.””

“Mort you are a lot of things but a tough guy isn’t one of them, sneaky and brilliant yes but tough no, to tell you the truth Morty when I first met you I thought you were gay”

“And now?”

“I’m not sure after all we don’t fuck anymore but we used to so I make it 50/50 you have at least some gay tendencies, at a minimum you are a raging metrosexual” and she laughed “you have more grooming products in my bathroom than I do”

“Fuck off Jamie you’re just jealous that I’m more attractive than you are”

“More attractive? You need to stop looking at yourself in the mirror and look at me more often, get some perspective on life”

“What do you mean”  I’d found that Jamie had a unique way of making me think about my weaknesses by poking fun at my surface vanity, when she really was questioning what made me the way I am.

“You’re always scheming and planning and worrying about things that you don’t control.  You think you have some magical power to control everything but you don’t.  It reminds me of a story my grandfather told me about our cow”

“Your cow? Is this another Uncle Elmer Amish fable?”

“No it’s a true story, my grandfather was taking a nap under the tree in our yard back in Bird-in-Hand when I noticed all my brothers, sisters, cousins, aunt and uncles were in the field gathered around one of the cows that was lying down.  It was a big commotion because the cow was clearly in distress and everyone was worried.  So I asked my grandfather why he wasn’t out there helping.  And he looked at me from under his hat and while still on his back said to me “that cow is going to die I don’t suppose my worrying about it is going to save it””

“And what happened”

“Why the cow died of course”

“And how does that apply to me?”

“I think you would be happier if you acted more like my grandfather, you’re worrying about things isn’t going to save them, take a nap and let nature run its course”

That would have been good advice if I could have figured out who the cow was in my life, I was worried that the cow just might be me.

At that moment my cell phone signaled I had an email waiting.  As I read the email I was relieved to note that at least tonight the cow was someone else.  The email was from the political reporter at the Times Union, Casey Sailer, and he wanted to talk about a story he was working on involving Ravi, a stolen McLaren, Richard’s sister and an escort service that high level government officials were allegedly frequenting.  Count on Dante to be Dante.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6

Casey Sailer had been with the Times Union for almost 5 years.  He had a well-deserved reputation as being the type of reporter that cared more about how his story was punctuated than he did about actually discovering facts.  It was said that Casey would much rather investigate the origin and use of a single word than he would a tip about bribes in the legislature.

Casey had previously worked at the Burlington Free Press in Burlington Vermont where he rose from covering local farmers markets and High School Theater to become the host of a public television series called “Casey and Proust – life as a dilettante”.  The rumor was he had to leave Vermont after being caught in flagrante delicto with an English teacher at Bellows Free Academy in Swanton Vermont.

Perhaps the most glaring example of Casey’s lack of reporting skills but devotion to correct grammar occurred soon after he became the political reporter for the Times Union.  While waiting for former Majority Leader Andrews to arrive in court to face public corruption charges Casey was interviewing Andrews then chief of staff, Sam Casey.  Sam mentioned to Casey that he thought it was a shame that Andrews had to run the gauntlet of reporters waiting for him and Casey spent the next 30 minutes lecturing and arguing with Sam that the correct term was gantlet not gauntlet and completely missed Andrews statement that then US attorney now Judge Sudsberry had promised Andrews that he wouldn’t be convicted in return for his judgeship.  Casey left court smugly assured that he had triumphed over Sam and Sam left looking for a new job, one I helped him land with Assemblyman Munro.  It might take a while but I knew Sam was itching to throw down the gauntlet and engage in linguistic combat with Casey. 

I never allowed myself to be drawn into Casey’s world of grammar and punctuation, in fact I always tried to avoid sending anything in writing to Casey unless it was first proofread by I. M Hayakawa.  But I would talk to him on the phone, never in person.  I literally became physically ill if I had to see Casey.  His attempt to promote his image was largely centered on his bicycle, his hardcover copy of Proust that he carried everywhere and his hipster glasses that made him look like every other middle aged white douchebag from Brooklyn although Casey had never been to Brooklyn since it had too many minorities walking around for his taste.  In fact, Casey was known as a closet racist if for no other reason than Ebonics.

With all these thoughts in mind I called Casey.

“Casey Sailer, state your purpose please”

“Yo Case it’s Leathers what be crackin brah?”

“Excuse me?  I don’t understand”

“Casey I be needing to ax you a question about hoes and blow”

“Mr. Leatherbaum are you attempting to be humorous?”

“I was but I’m sure it was lost on you, you pompous little dilettante bitch”

“Mr. Leatherbaum if I could ask you a couple of questions about Ravi Kamatrappa and Richard Siler?”

“You may”

“Do you know them both?”

“I believe that should be “do you know both of them?”

“Well actually Mr. Leatherbaum according to my pocket copy of the grammarist my usage is preferred in the majority of English speaking countries with white populations in excess of 80%”

“Like Burlington Vermont?”

“Precisely”

“Yes Casey I know both of them”

“And are you aware that Mr. Kamatrappa was arrested last evening with Mr. Siler’s wife in a stolen McLaren”

“The story I heard was it was a Jaguar and that Ravi was with a prostitute from the Kings Klub a high end escort service that our elected officials are using”

“A Jaguar you say not a McLaren?”

“Correct”

“Well they are both English sports cars”

“Actually the Jaguar is a sedan”

“Now that could be important, do you know what color the sedan was?

“Actually Casey the story I heard was that Ravi got set up with this prostitute by Israeli drug dealers working for Richard, but that’s just a rumor”

“Israeli’s? Are you sure I thought Ravi was from India”

“Well they both start with an I, don’t they”

“ Are you aware that In Modern English spelling, i represents several different sounds, either the diphthong // ("long i") as in kite, the short /ɪ/ as in bill, or the ee sound // in the last syllable of machine. The diphthong /aɪ/ developed from Middle English /iː/ through a series of vowel shifts. In the Great Vowel Shift, Middle English /iː/ changed to Early Modern English /ei/, which later changed to /əi/ and finally to the Modern English diphthong /aɪ/ in General American and Received Pronunciation. Because the diphthong /aɪ/ developed from a Middle English long vowel, it is called long i in traditional English grammar.[citation needed]

The letter 'i' is the fifth most common letter in the English language.[3]

The English first-person singular nominative pronoun is "I", pronounced // and always written with a capital letter. This pattern arose for basically the same reason that lowercase "i" acquired a dot: so it wouldn't get lost in manuscripts before the age of printing:

The capitalized “I” first showed up about 1250 in the northern and midland dialects of England, according to the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology. Chambers notes, however, that the capitalized form didn’t become established in the south of England “until the 1700s (although it appears sporadically before that time).””

 

“That’s very informative you pompous little shit but didn’t you hear me tell you that Ravi was set up by Richard Siler and that Richard is connected to Israeli criminals that are running an escort service that provides prostitutes to elected officials?”

 

“I’m not sure what you are trying to tell me Mr. Leatherbaum and I have a story to write look for it in tomorrow’s Times Union”

 

The following days Times Union had a story by Casey Sailer with the following first paragraph:

 

Indian academic Ravi Kamatrappa was arrested in lobbyist Richard Siler’s English sedan.  Sources allege that an Israeli dating service may have arranged companionship for Mr. Kamatrappa and others.

 

As Cadillac Curtis used to tell me you can’t fix stupid.

 

It was time to call Dante again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

Embrace serendipity.

 

That was the best advice anyone in this business had ever given me.  It happened when I left government for the first time and was scrambling to sign up client for a political consulting business I was running out of my house.  I had convinced a couple of the Senators I knew from my time in the legislature to sign on but I need more clients to make a go of it.  Cadillac Curtis had set me up with one of his contacts, a fellow named Greg Liebermann.  Greg had been the chief counsel for the minority leader of the Assembly then had gone on to become in-house counsel at Niagara Mohawk rising to Vice President and General Counsel before joining an upstate law firm in an of counsel role. 

 

Greg still had a lot of contacts both in and out of government and was widely respected by both sides of the aisle.  Needless to say I was excited to meet him and try to convince him to recommend me to his friends and business contacts.  I saw dollar signs when I sat down for breakfast with Greg.  After several minutes of small talk and explaining what my new business could do for people in government I got to the point and asked Greg if he knew anyone that could use my services.

 

I did not get what I hoped for.  I didn’t even get a polite brush off.  What I got instead was embrace serendipity.  Greg delivered it in a very serious way, in fact it took him about five minutes of rambling, Greg was and is a rambler, to say it.  And when he did I couldn’t help myself I blurted out “what the fuck does that mean?”

 

Greg didn’t bat an eye but patiently explained that life and business in particular was like a voyage on a sail boat, those that were the most successful unfurled their sails and let the wind take them where it may. 

 

At the time I thought Greg was completely full of shit and that I had wasted my time and gotten stuck with the bill to boot, but looking back it was the single greatest piece of advice I have ever received and I pass it along whenever I can.

 

It worked for me, my career has taken many twists and turns as the winds of politics have blown me into the harbor of lobbying.  Greg on the other hand is presently serving a five year sentence in federal prison after getting caught in a sting operation arising from the governor’s short lived Moreland Commission on Corruption.  Greg was one of the Co-Chairs and was secretly taped discussing which of the governor’s many enemies in the legislature should receive subpoenas to disclose their outside income and campaign donations.  The fact that he was discussing it with one of the principals of a company bidding for a casino license that was simultaneously donating millions of dollars to the governor thru a myriad of LLC interest all of whom were set up by Greg’s law firm for an outrageous fee might have gone unnoticed, this was Albany after all, but Greg got greedy and while rambling on with his embrace serendipity speech actually asked for a bribe in the form of a new sailboat.  Not sure how well embrace serendipity goes over in prison but I will always be grateful for that advice and I try to embrace serendipity every day.

 

Today’s serendipity was waiting in my office for me when I arrived.

 

It came in the form of Dixie Junkins.

 

Dixie had been referred to the firm by Speaker Washington’s chief fundraiser.  Dixie had either been Speaker Washington’s roommate in college or was the speaker’s aunt’s husband’s brother in law, no one quite knew for sure.  Dixie was impeccably dressed in a conservative Brooks Brothers suit but it might have been a decent knock off I couldn’t tell.  At first sight I thought Dixie might be a light skinned brother but after careful examination he just as easily could have been a swarthy Mediterranean type.  I had had a full background investigation done on Dixie prior to our meeting and Pat had left the results in a folder on my desk but I hadn’t had the time to review it yet, I would do so as I interviewed Dixie.

 

“Mr. Leatherbaum how good to see you again”

 

Dixie had a strange accent, it was either Bahamian with a little Jamaican lilt or it was Brooklyn with a lisp I just couldn’t tell.

 

“Have we met before? I must apologize I don’t recall”

 

“No worries Mr. Leathers it was at the fundraiser for 101 black men, I was on the host committee and received the Basil Washington award, and please call me Dixie.  I don’t know if you are aware Leathers and I don’t tell anyone but my close friends, but I am the illegitimate son of Basil Washington”

 

Basil Washington was a legendary figure in the black community in the seventies who eventually served as the Mayor of New York City.  If Dixie was his son he was black political royalty although of the bastard variety.  Basil’s actual legitimate son was now the Speaker of the Assembly Bernard Washington, known to his friends as “Shady” Washington.  Time to check the background folder.

 

The first page stated that Dixie Junkins birth certificate listed his name as David Basil Junkins the son of Saul Junkins and Delinda Washington.  David was born in Poughkeepsie, New York.  The report stated that although no proof existed soon after David’s birth Saul petitioned the court to be removed from the birth certificate as David’s birth father and the petition was granted.  The box for race on the birth certificate was also unchecked. 

 

No way to prove or disprove that one, time to move on.

 

“I’m sorry Dixie I’ve never attended a fundraiser for 101 black men but it is a pleasure to meet you, how can I be of service”

 

“Well my brother, “Shady” suggested I leverage my unique position and skill set to help you Leathers.  I am confident that I can, with my brother’s helpful insight, sign a lot of clients that need the Speakers help with legislation and I might add bring a little diversity to your firm.  You guys have a reputation for being male and pale”

 

“So you want to join us as a lobbyist, have you lobbied before?”

 

“Oh I have, I was the chief strategist for “Black Shadow”, I’m sure you’ve heard of it’

 

I had in fact, “Black Shadow” was the super Pac for the black caucus in the United States Senate.  They were extremely well funded and even better connected to the black business community, a demographic our firm had never broken into.

 

“But I don’t want to be a lobbyist per se Leathers, I’d rather have an affiliation with your firm whereby I refer clients and you do the actual lobbying”

 

I checked the folder again.  Under employment it said that Dixie had worked for a fundraising affiliate of “Black Shadow” but did so as a vendor so no payroll records were available.  Working as a vendor instead of an employee was common practice among political operatives that did not want their large salaries to become the target of an opposition research report into the spending habits or personnel of these super Pacs.  Once again, no way to prove if Dixie was telling the truth.

 

Time to embrace serendipity.

 

“That could be a very exciting opportunity for both of us Dixie.  I’m sure we could use you and could provide a commission of one third of any revenue we receive from clients you originate”

 

“That’s great Leathers but as I’m sure my brother explained the relationships I have are going to be wary of using a firm like yours and it make take some time to cultivate and convince them to do so, in the meantime Both my brother and our friends think that a forty percent finder’s fee and a weekly stipend of $5000, a membership in The East Greenbush Golf and Polo Club and a corner office would be more appropriate.  Now of course if you doubt my brother’s ability to generate new business I’d be more than happy to keep my next appointment with Mr. Richard Siler and you will be hearing from my brother I’m sure.”

 

I checked the folder again, nothing Dixie had said could be proven or disproven.

 

“I wish you luck with Richard, Dixie”

 

It wasn’t in the folder but if Dixie really had the connections in the black community he claimed he didn’t need a membership in a golf club.  I’d never seen a black politician playing golf in all my years lobbying.  And the day I let “Shady” Washington get over on me was the day I’d make sure “Shady” went back to hustling fake Rolexes on Queens Boulevard.

 

This time it looked like the winds of fortune where blowing me away from the rocks and shoals of Dixie Junkins.  I would let someone else crash and sink with Dixie.

 

Time to call Dante.

 

Chapter 8

 

“What do you know what do you hear?”

 

“Have you heard anything about Richard and the Israeli’s Dante?”

 

Dante lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper.  It was his tell that he was about to pass on a rumor that he wanted you to believe was highly confidential, and one that he had heard from some high level government official.  This was pretty funny since no one could hear us on the phone other than federal agents listening in on their wiretaps and because the only people Dante talked to where reporters who were trading gossip and dropping hints about their sources in government.  More than once Dante had passed on as fact a rumor I had given him that same day but which he now claimed came from conversations with “the big guy”.

 

“I was just talking to some friends in law enforcement who believe that new guy in the Southern District is going to shake things up around here on Thursday”

 

Now that didn’t answer my question about Richard and the Israelis but I like a good piece of gossip as much as the next guy so I didn’t interrupt.

 

“It has something to do with campaign donations and this whole concept of three men in a room”

 

Campaign donations were the mother’s milk of Albany politics.  At this moment alone I had on my desk 47 separate invitations to fundraisers this week ranging from a $100 a head hot dog picnic for the newest member of the Independent Republican Conference in the Assembly, the IRC by the way consisted of 5 republican assembly members 3 of whom were involved in a convoluted love triangle, all the way up to a $5000 per head book signing for the governors newest book “Profiles in Family Politics”.  Writing books was the governor’s favorite way to collect bribes from groups with business before the state.  It was actually pretty simple and a bulletproof way to monetize his office without running afoul of the bribery statutes. The governor would find a company that needed something in the way of legislation and also had an affiliated entity or subsidiary in the media world.  The media company would sign him to a book deal and pay a huge advance against future sales with the contractual agreement not to require repayment of the advance if the book sold a small number of copies.  The book would be ghost written and after publication the governor’s campaign would buy enough copies to satisfy the contract clause.  The parent company would get their bill passed, the governor would pad his bank account and everything would be publicly disclosed.  The last book deal the governor entered into paid him $750000 and sold 4000 copies, 3700 of which his campaign purchased and gave out at campaign stops.  In the last 2 years alone the governor had written 6 nonfiction books, 3 fiction books, a book of poetry and one comic book, and banked 3.7 million dollars.

 

“Supposedly he has a new idea that will change the way campaign finance is done, kind of piggybacking with the good government proposals to eliminate the LLC loophole, making legislators full time and paying them enough so they don’t steal”

 

I’d been hearing this same old song for 20 years.  The problem was that the LLC loophole wasn’t the cause of corruption the legislators themselves were.  And paying them more wasn’t necessary since almost all of them where making more as legislators than they ever could in the private sector.  The vast majority would have trouble getting jobs as dishwashers at Eggy’s if they weren’t in office.  No the real issue was the corrosive nature of campaign donation requests themselves.  It was the equivalent of a mafia extortion plot.  Donate or be punished.  Dejardin, my compliance guy, had once explained to me the simplest way to fix the culture of corruption in Albany.  His idea was to create an agency that was responsible for collecting donations from donors and distributing the money to the donor’s choice of candidates.  The catch was to make it a felony for the donor to tell the candidate they donated and make it a felony for the candidate to ask.  The new agency would keep records but would be required to only publish who gave money and how much but not to whom and to also publish which candidates received money but not from whom and to do so in lump sums so neither party knew the whole picture.  If donors had to donate anonymously they could support candidates on their political positions and not on a quid pro quo basis. And the elected official could act based upon what they believed was best for their constituency not to repay campaign donors.  Of course as I pointed out to Dejardin if donations really were anonymous no one would donate and if politicians passed legislation to serve the public no one would hire lobbyists.  Dejardin was a genius but a complete naiveté when it came to the way government really worked.   After all it was Denny Dejardin that had written an op-ed piece for the New York Times arguing that one man one vote was the root cause of our dysfunctional government.  He wrote that if he had one share of Microsoft he didn’t get the same voice as Bill Gates did in running Microsoft.  He went on to predict that one man one vote would eventually lead to a system where the majority could confiscate the minority’s property on the simple theory of it wasn’t fair and they had more votes than the party whose property was confiscated.  Denny was absolutely certain that a family of immigrants would one day pull up in his driveway in their Prius and tell him they were moving into Denny’s palatial home and worst of all that they were going to start driving his prized Ferrari Dino, but that he was welcome to drive the Prius.  Denny may be right but you don’t write that in The New York Times without expecting a violent response from the great unwashed.  It got so bad Denny had to hire one of Jelly’s dishwashers to act as his body guard.

 

“Who is this new guy Dante?”

 

“His name is Ping Bo Xian, he comes out of Senator Shlumber’s operation, and I think he was deputy counsel for the United States Senates standing committee on state legislative corruption.  Very polished, great on his feet, ruthless and the rumor is looking to replace Shlumber down the road.  They call him Ping Pong”

 

“Ping Pong huh? What makes him any different than the last 10 US Attorneys down there?”

 

“Two things.  One he has a lot of money, his sister started an on line business to sell micro condoms”

 

“Micro condoms?  What the fuck is that?”

 

“Really small condoms apparently there is a huge market for them and people don’t want to go into a store to buy them.”

 

“So if his sister started the business how did that make him rich?”

 

“He had equity in the business and when they went public he used his position with Shlumber to grease the wheels at the SEC or FCC or some federal agency that was slowing up the cash out”

 

“So what’s the second thing that makes him different than every other wanna be Elliot Ness?”

 

“I heard he plans to announce on Thursday a RICO indictment against the entire legislature and the governor.  He plans to get a federal monitor appointed to oversee the three men in a room and turn it into three men in a cell and four men in the room going forward with the fourth man a court appointed monitor with wide powers to investigate the formulation of legislation.”

 

Holy Shit.  I was literally floored, not much surprised me anymore but this was game changing.  Could Ping Pong actually pull it off?  If he did it would be the end of the system we all knew.  This wasn’t Denny Dejardin just spouting off.  This would be real.  I had to keep my cool with Dante after all it was Dante and someone else out there could just be spinning the story to gauge a reaction.

 

“So Dante can you get me a micro condom?  I want to give it to the hose to use as a hat on his hose.  I’m playing golf with him shortly and it would be hilarious I’ll tell him it’s for just the tip.  Come to think of it get me two I’ll give one to Rocky Schwartz at the same time he’s hung like a gerbil.  Just think those two represent the long and the short of politics.  I crack myself up”

 

Dante in a very serious voice replied “Will do Leathers”

 

“Oh and by the way before I forget see if anyone is talking about Richard hiring Speaker Washington’s brother that might be a good story for Dickie Fred at the Post, he loves to write anonymously sourced attack pieces that suck up to one side or the other”

 

“You’re slipping Leathers, Dickie retired this morning there is a rumor that he was on a list of clients of the Kings Klub.  He was client number 93.”

 

“Client 93 huh?”

 

“Yup I’m told by the big guy himself there is more to come.  The big guy is thinking about writing a book about it, he is going to title it Profiles in the Plague Years”

 

“Dante is there any way you can get me a copy of that client list”

 

“No problem Leathers but save yourself some time I’m told it is almost identical to the telephone directory of the Senate and Assembly”

 

By the time I hung up my head was spinning.  As I looked at my desk and saw all the invitations to fundraisers all I could think about was Ping Pong, prostitutes and playing golf with the hose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 9

 

The phone rang on my desk.

 

“Leathers, what up kid”  It was Dan Kerr, he had been calling me kid ever since we turned Senator Sklidokis’s mistress into a Chinese finger trap after some fund raiser.  It was his way of reminding me that he lasted longer.  Childish and sophomoric but effective as he knew it annoyed me.

 

“Danny, you still looking for those extra small condoms?”  I had been reminding him of his diminutive stature for just as long.  “I’m told Ping Pong can hook you up”

 

“That’s not funny Leathers, if Ping Pong brings a RICO against the legislature we are all fucked and I don’t use condoms I’m a good catholic boy”

 

Dan was a catholic, good was a purely subjective adjective to describe his religion though.  At last count Dan had been married 5 times, had no fewer than 8 mistresses while he was married, had been caught having sex with his secretary at least 10 times in the office alone and in what was without a doubt his greatest accomplishment had to have his office relocated from the Capital to the Legislative Office Building twenty or so years ago while he was Chief of Staff for then Senate Majority Leader Guido Sklidokis.  Sklidokis eventually died in prison while serving a 10 year term for turning his office into a consulting practice that catered to New York City real estate interests.  Dan’s office was relocated because he repeatedly used it to have indiscrete sexual liaisons with then Deputy Majority Leader Andrews wife.  Dan’s activity might have gone unnoticed if not for Andrew’s wife’s proclivity as a screamer.  In the long run Andrews got divorced, became majority leader and was the last Majority leader to leave office without serving time for a corruption conviction and Dan cemented his legend as the legislature’s top good catholic boy.

 

“I’m calling Leathers because the hose just called and wants to play golf at 11 this morning I’ll see you there and make sure Rocky is the fourth.”

 

I checked my watch, a Graham Chrono fighter that I won from Richard on a golf bet many years ago.  It was 9:04 but the Graham was notorious for being a few minutes slow each week.  Part of me always wondered if it was a real Graham or if Richard had been wearing a fugazy all those years ago.  I was afraid to go to a jeweler and find out if it was fake for fear of being embarrassed twice, once by the jeweler and then by Richard.  Assuming it was at worst a little after 9 I had plenty of time to make sure Rocky was at the course and still make an 11 am tee time.

 

“Pat, can you get me a tee time at The Bush (that’s what locals called the East Greenbush Golf and Polo Club) for 11 and have someone meet Rocky’s Lear at Millionaire and drive him to the course”

 

“I took care of all that before I transferred Daniel’s call”

 

“Daniel?”  Nobody I knew other than Dan’s wives, ex-wives, mistresses, girlfriends and assorted one night or afternoon stands called him Daniel.

 

“Yes Daniel, he is one of your few acquaintances that I actually enjoy”

 

“Pat have you ever . . .” and I let the thought drift away as my cell phone lit up with Andy Karps number.

 

“Leathers I’ll see you at Eggy’s for lunch”

 

“Can’t do it Andy I have to play golf with the hose at 11.”  Here comes the update on my bank balances.

 

“I know you are, I heard Dan’s call I was just testing you I’ll see you at Eggy’s in 20 minutes”

 

He heard Dan’s call?  Was he tapping Dan’s phone or mine? Or both?  In the long run I guess it didn’t matter as long as I was useful to Karp I had a get out of jail free card.  As for Dan, he would have to take care of himself, I wondered if Karp’s wife was happy.

 

As I walked in to Eggy’s 20 minutes later a group of beefy gentleman wearing dark blue wind shirts with “Homeland Security” in yellow letters across the back were leaving.

 

I sat down at the table with my back to the door and the Eggman himself came over to take our order.

 

Before I could order Andy was practically shouting at the Eggman.

 

“You need to refill the sugar packets”

 

“I’m sorry but those cheap motherfucking cops that just left stole all the sugar packets and they took the jelly packets we put out for the toast too”

 

Andy looked at the table next to us, which had sugar and jelly, and asked the two old women having tea to switch tables with us. When they politely refused he took out his badge and told them to leave, what a cheap miserable bastard.

 

After we had switched tables and Andy had ordered coffee and pilfered the sugar, jelly and containers of fake maple syrup, he got right to the point.

 

“We have to move the timetable up on Ravi, that megalomaniac down south, Ping Pong, is going to steal my thunder.  Do you know that cocksucker was in the room when I suggested we bring a RICO prosecution as part of our case against Andrews?  He was the liaison to Shlumber’s committee and said I was crazy to even suggest it now he is going to become the Times “man of the year” if he pulls it off”

 

“How can I help?”

“Let’s start by wearing your wire today when you play golf with Hibert”

 

The wire really wasn’t a wire it was a microcassette with a really good receiver.  And you didn’t wear it you kept in in a jacket pocket or in this case my golf ditty bag that I would have in the golf cart with me.  You didn’t want a recording device on you if some paranoid criminal got suspicious and made you strip in front of him.  Plus if you left the area and the recorder picked up a private conversation that was a bonus, illegal but a bonus.

 

“Get Hibert talking about Ravi and all the real estate deals going on out by the micro dot factory”

 

“Anything you say Agent Karp”

 

“I’ll get the tab Leathers you get the next one”

 

I hadn’t ordered anything, that cheap bastard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 10

 

As the Audi cruised up the tree lined drive to the clubhouse at The East Greenbush Golf and Polo Club I stole a glance to my right at the pin placements on holes 1, 3 and 4.  It was routine for members to take a look on the way in as all three holes had blind approach shots and knowing where the holes had been placed gave you a little edge.  Of course for a big money match I’d ask Ralphie, the head greens keeper, to give me his pin placement book.  That along with a $100 bill usually guaranteed I’d know the hole locations and my opponent wouldn’t, but today wasn’t about the golf or the money today was about getting face time with the hose.  A round of golf at The Bush usually took 3 hours including lunch.  If we saw 8 other people on the course during the round I’d be amazed.  Not only would the course be empty but the hose was renowned for playing fast, no looking for lost balls, improving his lie whenever he felt like it and not adverse to using a foot wedge to help himself.  The hose was competitive and he would cheat, you could tell a lot about a man by how he played golf.

 

Now Rocky on the other hand was the exact opposite of the hose, he played leisurely, strolling the course instead of riding in a cart, he couldn’t care less what he shot and he was scrupulously honest.  Rocky and the hose in the same foursome could become stressful.

 

As I parked I saw the hose, Rocky and Dan were already on the first tee.  I jumped into a cart and arrived at the tee at 10:59, just in time for us to tee off in front of the clubs resident milfs, Missy Cartright, whose husband was a doctor, Paula Unger the ex-wife of local builder Paul Unger, Trini Sandoval, whose husband, Tom Sandoval had just died leaving her over $3 million and his yellow Jaguar XKE and Lisa Zesnet the clubs women’s champion.

 

The first hole at The Bush is practically a symbol of politics in Albany.  Safe if you’re smart fatal if you’re not.   From an elevated tee in front of the clubhouse the fairway is wide for the first 200 yards then narrows down to a small rise at 260 yards with woods closing in on both sides, over the rise the hole drops the final 120 yards to a green that is elevated above a small creek and is sloped front to back such that the rear of the green where it is flat cannot be seen from the creek.  The smart play is the safe play, a long iron or 3 wood to the top of the rise then a short iron to the back of the green.  But every swinging dick doctor, lawyer or legislator I’ve ever seen play the Bush always tried show off and drive the rise with the best case result being a downhill wedge to an elevated green sloping away.  The worst case was a drive into the woods.

 

With the milfs milling about the small area next to the tee box the hose was anxious to start but first things first, tradition required a wager.

 

“Dan, I’ll partner with the hose and you take Rocky we are in the same carts that way”

 

“No problem Leathers, I’m an 8 handicap I know you play to a 4 what’s your handicap Rocky?”

 

“I’m a 13 back home”

 

Back home was a private course that Rocky actually owned, I’ve played it before and it was without a doubt 5 strokes easier than the Bush so Rocky’s 13 was more like 18 at the Bush but he would never try to get any extra strokes.

 

“And you Senator?”

 

“17”

 

The hose playing to a 17 was complete horseshit, he was at worst a 14 but when Rocky said 13 the hose with lightning speed did the calculation and realized playing to a 17 made the teams even and gave him at least a 3 stroke advantage.  And he knew that none of us would call him on it.

 

“Okay how about we play as teams and if my team wins we get Dan’s Omega Montreal watch if Dan’s team wins they get my Graham?”

 

The hose immediately pointed out that there was only one watch how would we split it?

 

“No worries Senator if we win I’ll give you half the value of the Omega in cash if we lose I’ll cover the bet with my Graham”

 

“How much is that watch worth Sam?”

 

“I’d say about $4000 Senator”

 

Sam was full of shit the Omega was worth half that but what could I say in front of the hose.

 

“OK so we win Leathers gets the watch and gives me $2000, let’s play”

 

The hose strode to the tee driver in hand a ball in his hand and another in his pocket.  As I looked closer the ball was an off brand that I had a sneaking suspicion was juiced and illegal but again who was going to say anything.

 

With the milfs looking on the hose took a mighty swing and sent the ball deep into the woods on the right side of the rise.

 

“What type of ball were you playing Senator? I’m sure we can find it” Rocky politely asked.

 

Rocky was taking his life in his hands implying the Senator was going to be looking for a lost ball and an illegal one at that

 

“What fucking difference does it make Rocky, I’m allowed a mulligan on the first hole, even you small time upstate real estate guys should know that, get your partner under control Sam he’s playing head games with me already”

 

“Absolutely Senator swing away”

The hose’s second shot rolled into the woods at the top of the rise.

 

“I see it Senator” Sam meekly announced.

 

I play at The Bush at least 3 times a week and knew no one was finding that ball.

 

I hit a 3 iron about 20 yards short of the rise and in the middle a nice safe shot.

 

Rocky went next and ended up about 20 yards behind me but on the fairway, for a guy well over 6 foot 5 inches he hit the ball like a guy hung like a gerbil.

 

Sam stepped up and glanced at the hose before sending his driver deep into the woods on the left of the fairway.  You don’t want the hose being the only one in trouble on the first hole, Sam was no rookie when it came to lobby golf.

 

As we drove away from the first tee, Rocky said he wanted to walk and strolled up the fairway.

 

The hose dropped me at my ball and raced the cart to the top of the rise.  I had no doubt that he would find a ball and most likely just over the rise in great shape.

 

No sooner had he disappeared over the rise than he yelled “I’ve got it it must have hit a tree and bounced back into the fairway”

 

“Member’s bounce senator now let’s go win this hole”

 

At the end of the hole which we easily won as a result of the hose’s good fortune I retrieved his ball from the cup and returned it to him, it no longer was an off brand it was now a shiny new Titleist.

 

As the round progressed we fell into a rhythm, the hose kept cheating, Sam kept tanking on purpose, we kept winning and Rocky kept walking slowing down the round and allowing the milfs to catch up, which infuriated the hose.

 

As we finished the 7th hole, a long par 5, and approached the 8th a short par 3, the hose growled at Rocky.

 

“Don’t you fucking dare tell those big titted bitches to play thru, they can all suck my dick, at the same time”

 

“But Senator it’s the polite thing to do”

 

“Rocky I’m fucking warning you, and start riding you’re slowing us down”

 

As the milfs approached the hose started to flirt with Trini.

 

“I see you have the Jag out today Trini, it’s almost as beautiful as you are”

“Thank you Senator I’ve always enjoyed riding a powerful machine with a long hood”

 

The milfs giggled.

 

“Ladies why don’t you play thru” Rocky politely offered.

 

“You sure you don’t mind?”

 

“Not at all” Rocky responded.

 

As the milfs teed off and rode away the hose walked to the back of Rocky’s cart and proceeded to throw his clubs into the woods one by one.

 

It would be another 4 holes and a lite lunch before the hose calmed down enough for me to talk to him about his son’s future.

 

“Senator I understand Oscar is contemplating becoming a lobbyist”

 

“He’s a smart kid Leathers you would be lucky to have him at Leathers and Lace and I’d make sure it was profitable for you”

 

The kid was actually a complete idiot and the hose had been promising every firm in town the same thing.

 

“Well Senator you know I’ll be bidding and bidding high for his services but I hear Richard has told people he will spare no expense and plans to make Oscar a partner”

 

“Now that would be good for Richard but bad for you Leathers, but you didn’t invite me to play today to tell me that what’s really on your mind?”

 

“Well Senator I think it might be bad for Oscar too.  I’m hearing the feds are investigating Richard and his connection to legislators and how he gets results for his clients”

 

“So what you do the same thing Leathers”

 

“Well with everyone watching I may know a better way for Oscar to advance his career”

 

“I’m all ears Leathers”

 

“Oscar should open his own consulting practice, keep his overhead low and collect large monthly fees from the clients you send his way”

 

“I’m not sure Oscar can service all the clients I could send him that’s why I want him to be part of a firm”

 

“Well here’s the beauty of it Senator, the clients don’t pay him to lobby they pay him NOT to lobby”

 

“Huh?  Not to lobby”

 

“Absolutely, Senator, he enters into consulting agreements whose sole purpose is to prevent him from lobbying for any other client in a particular industry, it becomes an insurance policy for those clients that hire him”

 

“Kind of like the old merger and acquisition law firms or divorce lawyers you hire him so the other guy can’t”

 

“Exactly Senator, and the clients realize they are paying so that Oscar will not help their competition, Oscar doesn’t have to do anything other than play golf or ride his dirt bike or whatever he is into nowadays and the feds can’t claim it’s a quid pro quo and you and Oscar avoid indictment like every other legislator that has tried to help his children work in Albany”

 

“I like it Leathers, Oscar gets paid for not working its perfect.  Thank you now what can I do for you?”

 

We were getting back into the cart and were now within range of the micro cassette recorder in my ditty bag.

 

“Well Senator I’d like to talk to you about what Richard is up to with Ravi and the real estate deals around his micro dot factory”

 

By the time we arrived at the next tee box I was sure Karp would have enough information to start to put together the next Albany political scandal and if things went right put Richard, Ravi and at least 3 senators and 6 assemblyman in jail.

 

The only thing that was bothering me was the hose’s concern that there were a bunch of Israeli’s involved that scared him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 11

 

As I threw my golf ditty bag in the Audi I noticed Dan and Trini walking into the clubhouse together and heading for the private rooms on the second floor.  He might be a good catholic boy but he was going to need a new watch and a dose of penicillin.  His Omega Montreal, now my Omega Montreal was in my ditty bag right next to the microcassette.  All in all not a bad day.  I was out $2000, my payoff to the hose, but I didn’t have to hire his idiot kid, Karp would be happy with the tape and I had another watch bet story to tell anyone who asked where I got the Omega.

 

Before I could even leave the parking lot Pat called on my cell.

 

“Leathers, I’m glad you finished your round your phone has been blowing up with calls about Jim Stork”

 

James Stork, now that was a name I hadn’t heard in a long time.  Jim was a lawyer who showed up about 15 years ago from some big New York City law firm and started his own firm with a couple of other young guys.  They were doing well mostly because Jim for all his failings, and he had many, was a genius when it came to getting clients.  The firm grew quickly and then Jim decided to apply his talent and complete amorality to lobbying.  He should have been a natural.  He started a torrid affair with Sandy Corogi the wife of lobbyist Nick Corogi and the sister of then Governor Fitzgibbon’s chief of staff.  Sandy was the head of the state consumer affairs office and soon left to start a lobbying practice that she ran out of Jim’s law office.  They both left their respective spouses and moved into a large home in Loudonville which was down the block from Jim’s old house where his wife and kids still lived.  Jim got his wife a good job in the senate and the kids would come and go from both houses.  The rumor was Jim did as well.  Jim’s new house became the defacto clubhouse for those legislators and lobbyists that Jim and Sandy entertained lavishly.  It also was the home for the Senate card game.  This was a weekly game of poker that included top senate staffers, several lobbyists and various businessmen who were Jim’s new lobby clients.  It was also where I met Ravi.  Jim had invited him to the game and Ravi lost a lot of money which ordinarily would have guaranteed him a regular seat but the next day a New York tabloid had a small story about the game that everyone believed came from Ravi.  Ravi never played poker at Jim’s again but I was able to convince him that Jim had blackballed him for the news story that Ravi knew he wasn’t the source for.  I knew it as well since I was.  This way I got Ravi as a client and Jim didn’t.

 

Jim’s house was also the scene of one of the most amazing events in the annals of Albany lobbying depravity.  During one of the poker games with 3 or 4 potential big money clients at the table, Sandy walked thru the card room on her way to the hot tub on the deck behind the house.  This was not unusual as Sandy was always a gracious host and socialized with us during the game but this time she was completely nude.  Not a stitch of clothing on and I must say for a 40 something women she looked like a porno star without the tattoos.  Although that isn’t completely accurate as I noticed she had a tattoo on her left hip that consisted of a 6 inch ruler with the phrase “you must be this big to enjoy this ride”.  Her nudity wasn’t what caught everyone’s attention, although it was riveting.  It was the fact that in her right hand she had a firm grip on the hose’s hose. 

 

Jim would eventually leave Sandy for a much younger women who was his live in au pair.  His lobby practice disappeared within months of getting caught by the lobby commission in an investigation where he was heard on tape requiring his clients to provide him cash with which he made campaign donations in his own name and for entering into a contingent fee contract for a casino license that he spelled out in emails that his partner, Bill Volt the former state party chair, turned over after the commission politely asked for his records.  Who does that in this town?  You never write it down and you never turn it over if you own a shredder, rookies. 

 

Jim was eventually disbarred for his role in a real estate Ponzi scheme and the last I had heard had moved to Florida with the au pair and their triplets. The rumor was he had been arrested in Florida for stealing a Mercedes from a rental car agency and for trying to sell the house he was renting.  According to local news reports he actually was able to get a cash deposit for the rental home but the scheme fell apart when the homeowner drove by and saw the Mercedes being packed with children’s toys and a for sale by owner sign on the front lawn.

 

Say what you want about Jim’s life style, I never thought he was immoral I was absolutely positive he was amoral, and I found myself secretly rooting for the guy to pull off his latest scam.

 

“What about Jim?”

 

“He died”

 

“No shit, how?”

 

“Drowned”

 

“In Florida?”

 

“No, in Albany”

 

“In a pool?”

 

“No they found him in a barrel of pickles in the old pickle factory out by Ravi’s micro dot factory”

 

“A pickle barrel? That’s crazy”

 

“Sure sounds like it”

 

“Who called about it?”

 

“Who didn’t its big news, you have to start leaving your phone turned on while you play”

 

“Just give me the calls I have to return Pat, I don’t need a lecture”

 

It was weird but Jim’s death was actually depressing me and making me irritable.

 

“There are only two that you should return before you get back here, Call Andy Karp and Casey Sailer”

 

“I’ll do that but email me the rest I don’t think I’m going back to the office”

 

I had a sudden need to see Jamie and talk to her about my depression.

 

“Your friend is found in a pickle barrel, you have at least a dozen calls to return and you decide to go visit an Amish whore?”

 

How could she possibly know what I was thinking?

 

“Fuck you Pat and by the way aren’t you friends with Trini Sandoval?”

 

“We’re not really friends I play tennis with her why do you ask?”

 

“Because as I was leaving the club she was fucking Danny, just thought you might want to warn her of Danny’s reputation”

 

“Daniel would never do that he is a good catholic boy”

 

I chuckled as I hung up, at least ruining Pat’s day made me feel better.

 

I dialed Karps number.

 

“FBI Agent Karp speaking”

 

“Andy its Leathers, you called?”

 

“Yes we need to meet at Eggy’s I want the cassette of your discussions with Hibert”

 

“OK but it will be about an hour or so I have to meet someone first”

 

“I know, Pat said you would want to see Jamie and talk about Stork, that’s the other thing we need to discuss it looks like the Stork death was a homicide”

 

“Really Andy? You don’t think he committed suicide by drowning himself in a pickle barrel?  No wonder the FBI has such a sterling reputation in this town”

 

“Careful Leathers I was at the scene and it appears it was a murder carried out by the Israeli’s.”

 

“You’re prejudice is showing Andy.  The Jews aren’t the only ones that like pickles”

 

“The fact that he drowned in a pickle barrel is just one clue the fact that he had a talus wrapped around his throat is proof it was the Israeli mob it’s their calling card”

 

“Ok I’ll see you at Eggy’s in an hour”

 

I hung up and Andy went back to eating the full sour kosher pickle he had taken from the murder scene.

 

I decided not to call Casey, I didn’t need a lecture on punctuation and he wouldn’t have any useful information even if the Israeli mob had sent him a press release explaining the who, what, when and why.

 

Instead I drove straight to Jamie’s loft.

 

As I sat on Jamie’s patio looking out over the Albany skyline I was sipping an ice cold glass of homemade root beer and enjoying her homemade Amish pretzels.

 

Jamie joined me on the patio.

 

“Why are you so sad Leathers?”

 

I explained the whole Jim Stork story including the pickle barrel.

 

“You know the death of someone you know doesn’t have to be so final”

 

“What are you talking about Jamie, ending up in a pickle barrel with a talus wrapped around your throat at the hands of some crazed Israeli mobster is about as final as it gets”

 

“I’m not talking about Jim. I’m talking about you”

 

“I don’t understand, like usual”

 

“Let me see if I can make it easier to understand”

 

“Here comes another Uncle Elmer Amish fable”

 

“No this is a real story.  My whole family was on our deck one fourth of July and there was an English family that were friends of my parents visiting.  They had a couple of little kids who were playing with some of the kittens, you know how many kittens are around an Amish farm Leathers?’

 

“I don’t have a clue Jamie”

 

“Well there are lots, anyway one of the dogs jumps on a kitten and breaks it’s back so my grandmother picked up the kitten by its tail and threw it in the burn barrel, The English kids are screaming and carrying on and grandma says to them, “calm down it’s just a kitty it’s not your pet, this is a farm we have lots of kitties””

 

“That’s barbaric but so what, how does that help me?”

 

“Jim Stork was not your family, this is Albany we have lots of kitties”

 

This is Albany we have lots of kitties, in retrospect no truer words have ever been spoken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 12

I left Jamie’s and was on my way to Eggy’s when Pat called.

“You need to call Alex Schimmel”

“Who the fuck is Alex Schimmel and why do I need to call him?”

“He represents Masilla Corp. that new client Roland referred to you on the marijuana license”

“OK but why do I need to call him now instead of tomorrow?”

“After he called I did a quick background on him and I found lots of important people that know him but absolutely nothing in the online resources we use.  The guy is a ghost”

“That is interesting but there must be something you can tell me about him before I call him”

“Well I checked with the angels and there are a couple of stories from years ago when he was a college student at UAlbany”

“College stories?”

“You’ll want to hear this one, the story goes he worked as a bartender at the Washington Tavern and according to some of the employees regularly had sex with college girls in the walk-in freezer”

“That’s your big piece of intel? Shit Danny still fucks girls in the walk-in freezer at WTs”

“First, Daniel would never do that he is a good catholic boy and second one of the coeds was Governor Mclowey’s daughter”

“Mclowey’s daughter? I’m surprised he hasn’t written a book about it”

“Actually I think he did, have you read “Fucked in the Freezer?”

“That wasn’t written by Mclowey it was a bestseller I think the author was Andy Como”

“Andy Como is Mclowey’s pen name for his serious fiction writing”

“Good to know, anything else on Schimmel?”

“He is now a crisis consultant in Washington D.C. no company affiliation, seems to work out of his Rolls Royce Corniche.  He doesn’t drive the Rolls he just parks it at his country club, Moreclose Country Club, so everyone can that it’s his, then takes cabs and zip cars wherever he needs to go.  He’s worth over $20 million but does his own grocery shopping because he doesn’t trust his Spanish maid to buy the right laundry detergent or get him the cheap toilet paper he prefers.  He’s known to be up at all hours writing emails and leaving text messages to his friends and enemies a like.  In short he is a brilliant complicated man with childlike behavior.  You should get along fine with him”

‘I’ll call him after I meet with Karp”

“That’s the other thing Karp said to meet him in the parking lot something about Eggy’s isn’t open”

I pulled into Eggy’s about 5 minutes later and it was indeed closed but Karp’s government issued black SUV was idling in the lot.

I pulled up and lowered my window.

“Why is Eggy’s closed?”

“They had to close early to restock I guess a large group of secret service agents stopped in to do advance work for the vice president’s visit next month and when they left Eggy was completely out of plates and silverware”

“No shit, well anyway here’s the recording of the hose” and I handed him the microcassette.

“Did you listen to it?”

“I didn’t have to I was there remember”

“Except I know you Leathers, you left it in the cart to record Hibert while he was alone.  How many times do I have to tell you that results in the tape being inadmissible?”

“Why don’t you listen to it first Agent Karp and see if you don’t think it being inadmissible wasn’t worth the information you will get.  And don’t bullshit me I know you can edit it so only the conversations with me present ever get played in court.  No thanks necessary”

“Let’s talk about Stork for a second.  I want you to be careful, our investigation has shown that Stork was buying real estate out by the microdot factory using money Ravi provided to him and at the direction of Richard Siler”

“Why should I be careful?”

“Because it wasn’t Ravi’s money”

“No shit I’m sure it was state grant money”

“Nope that would be routine state corruption and I know you can handle that type of thing, the money came from Israeli gangsters specifically a guy named Lev with a Jewish last name I can’t pronounce.  He is a mean vicious guy with an affinity for pickles.”

“Thanks I’ll keep that in mind Andy”

As I pulled away I glanced in the rearview mirror and so Karp loading a case of pickles into the back of the SUV, cheap bastard.

I dialed the number Pat had given me for Schimmel.

It went straight to voicemail and I left my name and number.

Within seconds my phone was ringing but the number calling me wasn’t the number I had just dialed it was listed as Consolidated Information Associates.

“Mr. Leatherbaum this is Alex Schimmel, I’d like to meet you as soon as possible”

“Certainly Mr. Schimmel what day would be convenient?”

“I’m landing at Albany airport in 15 minutes I’ll meet you there”

“Which terminal?”

“I’m not flying commercial you schmuck I’ll be in a Citation at the Millionaire FBO”

“I’ll be parked right outside in an Audi A8L”

“Nice car, I had one in collage”

Fuck this guy was arrogant.

“I heard you had some other nice rides in college, a couple in a walk-in freezer even”

Let him think about that.

“More than a couple I must have fucked all the angels in there at one time or another, even your assistant Pat, she was an absolute freak”

I didn’t know what to say I was dumbfounded.

“I’ll see you in 12 minutes Leathers we have a lot of work to do”

A lot of work?  This was supposed to be a simple $5000 a month client trying to get a medical marijuana license that they would never get.  What had I gotten myself into?

As Cadillac Curtis used to say if you couldn’t tell who the sucker was at the poker table in the first five hands it was you.

It was time for me to ante up and start playing some cards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 13

I saw the Citation X taxiing to the gate at Millionaire.  It was white with blue and gold pin striping and had the owners name written in gold on the nose of the plane. It read “Cannabis Inhaled Associates”.

As the plane rolled to a stop the door popped open, the stairs deployed and a middle aged man with a well-tailored dark blue suit and a $400 haircut bounced out of the plane and strode quickly across the tarmac and into the FBO.

I never saw him leave the FBO but he appeared as if by magic at the door of the Audi.

He opened the door and slid into the front seat as if he owned the car and I was his chauffer.

Without any introduction he began talking as if we had known each other forever.

“Well I have to admit Leathers you surprise me, and not many people do that”

“How . . .?”

“Audi A8L in titanium metallic with a cognac interior, four seat package and the refrigerator in the rear armrest.  They only made 28 with those options and only 3 with this color combination.  You may have more style than I gave you credit for”

“How do . . ” I couldn’t get the thought out as he kept talking.

“So here’s the deal.  We’re going to pay you $50000 per month to represent our interests on the pot license”

“$50000 Roland said $5000 not that I’m complaining but . . .”

“$5000 was to lobby FOR a license that we never were going to get $50000 is to stop everyone else from getting a license”

“Who is the we? Masilla Corp?”

“Sure if that helps you sleep at night.  Let’s just say that my company wants to help some of our friends in the agricultural export business that are marketing a competing product.  These agro businessmen have longstanding arrangements with local distributors that would be impacted by the granting of the licenses and are willing to go to great lengths to prevent a change in the business climate for their product”

“But why not spend that money to get a license as opposed to stopping everyone else?”

“Let’s be frank Leathers are the licensees already selected? And is the selection process and applications just a sham?”

“This is Albany of course the answer to both questions is yes”

“We are not going to pay you $50000 a month so that you can jerk us off for the next year or two we know how the system really works.  How many clients do you run that scam on?  Pay our retainer and during the first year we will get the bill introduced and passed in one house, next year we work on the other house, during the third year when we are hard at work convincing the governor to sign the bill oops the Senate needs to do a technical amendment and the whole process starts all over again, right?  We’re not Microsoft we’re not going to pay you forever and have nothing to show for it other than 3000 copies of Mclowey’s most recent book “Profiles in getting ripped off”

“But . . .”

“No we are paying you $50000 a month to fuck up everyone else’s deals.  What do you know about Ravi and Richard Siler’s work for Mazel Tov?”

“Mazel Tov . . .?”

“Mazel Tov is the company they are helping get one of the licenses.  It’s really a front for the Israeli mob, but they have done a good job of wiring the license for the capital district.  They’ve already fronted the money for Mclowey’s most recent book deal which has a $1 million bonus if he sells 4 copies, they’ve contracted with that idiot Oscar Hibert for $100000 a month to not lobby for anyone else on the pot licenses and they are paying Dixie Junkins $2500 a month to be an additional lobbyist in Richard’s firm and Dixie has promised to split the money with Speaker Washington and as soon as they find someone to do the math for them on what one half of $2500 is they are home free.  But that’s where you come in.  You have a compliance guy that’s supposed to be pretty good and well respected by the media right?”

“Denny Dejardin . . .”

“Yea that’s the guy, so here’s the deal, first thing, this Desjardin guy is going to file a formal complaint with the Attorney General claiming Siler’s law partner, David Blowsme, made an illegal gift to Mclowey, Hibert and Washington when he flew them on his private jet to a Cleveland Browns football game”

“Wait a minute no one goes to the Cleveland Browns football games and certainly not in Cleveland”

“It was that game last year against the Jets with that new kid “Johnny Football” starting every non-football fan celebrity was there and the rumor was that Blowme lost a bundle betting on the Jets, he is a degenerate gambler you know”

“Even if that is all true, how does it help and why would the Attorney General be helpful to us, he is a big supporter of Mclowey”

“First, he will be helpful because he has purchased a large quantity of our friend’s agricultural product, processed mind you, in the past.  And he knows if he wants to continue to utilize that product in the future he will do as our friends tell him.  Plus they have already told him that after he helps his per ounce price will be the same as the distributor’s kilo price.  And second if we can knock Mclowey out of office our friends will sign him to a South American endorsement deal for the raw product that should net him a couple of million a year, at least until they give him a Columbian necktie, but I’m getting ahead of myself”

“I’m not sure Dejardin will want to do all the research and writing this complaint will require, he’s making a small fortune just helping the lobbying community stay out of trouble, you or I should have his life”

“No worries we’ve already hired him at $10000 per month, we would have paid double that no questions asked but when we negotiated the price he only asked what our monthly budget for flowers was at the office and then asked for half that figure, strange guy.  And he knows that all he has to do is put his name on the complaint I’ll write it for him”

“So you plan to stop this multi-million dollar marijuana license project by filing a gift case around a free chartered jet trip to a football game?

“Exactly”

Schimmel’s cell phone rang and he glanced at it for a second.

“That’s Barack calling I have to take this”

He jumped out of the car and headed back to the Citation.  The whole meeting had taken less than 3 minutes and my head was swimming.  Barack? That could be anyone from the President of the United States to a member of Al Qaida.

No matter if the $50000 showed up I’d play, if it didn’t, it was an interesting meeting.

At that moment the Citation started its takeoff roll and my cell phone rang the ID on the phone announced “Cameras In Automation”.

“This is Leathers may I help you?”

“You fucking better, you’re retainer for $50000 was just wired to your KeyBank account, bitch”

“Alex, thank you? But how did you get my Key Bank wire information?”

“You’re kidding right?  Grow up you’re in the big leagues now I gotta go that’s Tiger on the other line he wants to play a round at Moreclose, later”

I called Pat.

“Can you check, did I just get a wire for $50000?”

“Yes you did from a company called “Common Interstate Agriculture” on behalf of Masilla Corp.  What are you doing for them?”

“I wish I knew Pat, can you call Sam and see if he is available for dinner at the Grove tonight?  I need to talk to someone who knows less about what’s going on than I do”

“That looks like a pretty short list right now”

“Short? Do you mean like Danny’s dick?”

Cadillac Curtis always taught me once you know your opponents weakness you beat it to death.

“Like I said Leathers there aren’t many people left than know less than you do . . . but when it comes to the size of that nice catholic boys penis I will admit I know less than you do.”

Cadillac also said that you should never argue with a lady about whose dick is bigger.

My phone rang again this time the ID said “Copius Intelligence Arguments”

“Hello Alex”

“One more thing Leathers, I’ve learned the Israeli’s are buying land to build a collage dorm that will also house their marijuana distribution location.  If they pull it off it’s a model they can use all over the country.  Think about it their customers will be living right above the sales office.  Siler was the mastermind behind that one.  I’m actually surprised and disappointed in you that you weren’t smart enough to think of it.  I have to take this call it’s Hank, we’re going to buy Bermuda”

“Bermuda? Is that a company?’

“No it’s a country”

He hung up and I was left wondering who Hank was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 14

As I walked in The Grove I did a quick scan of the room.

The hose was at his usual corner table, sitting with his idiot son and a rather large gentleman in a very expensive suit.

Mclowey was holding court from a table in the middle of the room surrounded by second floor suckups and fuckups.  Chief among them his chief of staff a mean little shit with teeth that looked like a bad ear of corn, who used to be the County Executive of Oleans County who went by the name of Larry Smith and by the nickname “Licketysplit”.  Not many people were aware that when Larry was born his name was Linda.  He had gender reassignment surgery as a young girl and became a young man.  For the last 50 years he had bounced around government leaving a trail of enemies resulting from his mean spirited machinations.  It was said Larry wasn’t happy unless someone else was unhappy.  Perhaps the best example of this was his role in the resignation of former Governor Mendez.  Governor Mendez served as governor for a little less than 3 weeks after Governor Mazzone’s resignation resulting from the Dante typo and the uproar surrounding Mazzone’s use of the state plane to travel to the nation’s capital to fuck male prostitutes.  Mendez was a likeable man that had spent a career as a State Senator representing a safe seat in Spanish Harlem.  He was mute and relied on staff to translate his own unique sign language.  He was also an alcoholic who had become addicted to a concoction of cheap brandy and expensive champagne he called “thugs punch”.  You rarely saw Mendez sober or without his glass of “iced tea” which was really “thugs punch”.  Smith was his chief of staff and in charge of translation duties one fateful press conference.  When asked if he supported same sex marriage Mendez actually gave a very measured thoughtful response that left his political options open,  Licketysplit translated Mendez’ signs and announced to the assembled reporters that Governor Mendez “Doesn’t take it up the ass like our previous governor and would sooner approve marriage between the races than between same sex couples”.  Mclowey as Attorney General announced he was opening a civil rights case against Mendez and then hired Larry as his Chief of Staff.  Mendez resigned and started a career as a radio talk show host, which being mute did not garner many listeners.  Mclowey wrote a book about the incident titled “Profiles of a Transgender” and became Governor in a landslide.  When t

Finally told by his son what Smith had said he signed Mendez uttered the only words anyone had ever heard him say “Fuck me”.

One table over from Mclowey sat Richard Washington, Dixie Junkins and the entire Black and Puerto Rican caucus of the Assembly.  The table was heaped with the remnants of a huge meal of lobster and steak.  Now I know all those public servants received a generous per diem for traveling to Albany but their combined net worth didn’t exceed the cost of one lobster tail, someone else had to be paying for that meal.

Richard and Ravi were in the far corner trying to remain unseen behind a large ficus tree.  Sitting with them was O. Robert Lambert the town’s self-proclaimed top criminal lawyer.

Before joining Sam at my table I stopped by Jelly’s host station to chat.

“Hey Jelly who is paying for “Shady’s” meal?”

“You will like this story Leather’s, so they come in take the big table and ordered everything on the menu, drinks apps main courses, sides dessert you name it.  The bill comes to several thousand dollars and Mr. Washington passes it to Mr. Jones who passes it to Mr. Farrah who passes it to Ms. Johnson and on and on it goes until it comes full circle to Mr. Junkins who tells Mr. Washington that he has no cash and his new credit card isn’t activated yet.  Mr. Washington then makes a call to Mr. St. Lapierre and asks him for his American Express card account number.  When Bobby asks why Shady says they need to pay for dinner and no one has any money.”

“What did Bobby say?”

“He said sure it’s the least he could do after Washington’s mom had sent him that big client and to thank her for the truffle butter.  Have you ever had truffle butter Leathers?  Is it something we should put on the menu?”

I chuckled as I walked over to Richard’s table.

“O. Bob how are you and what are you doing associating with these two dope dealers/”

“Now Leathers that should be alleged dope dealers, and I’m discussing litigation strategy with my clients so I would appreciate it if you could leave”

“No problem O. Bob, by the way who is picking up the tab for dinner?”

“Not that it is your business but I always ask for a separate check, pay my own way and then bill the client for my time and a reasonable markup on the reimbursement for my meal”

“Hey Richard things are looking good for you huh?  Just keep yourself out of the pickle barrel and Ravi you might want to get your own criminal defense lawyer, it’s safer that way”

I could have sworn a puddle of piss was forming under Ravi’s chair.

“Hey Leathers fuck yourself”

“Nice comeback Richard, isn’t that your new lobbyist Dixie Junkins over there having dinner with Speaker Washington?”

“Yes it is we are expanding our practice into the minority community’s interests”

“Well good luck with that but you might want to check on who paid for that meal and why”

Without looking back I strode over to my table where Sam Casey sat sipping a Shirley temple with an umbrella in the glass.

“Sam why are you drinking anything with an umbrella in it?”

“Leathers we are in a public place I don’t want anyone thinking I drink alcohol”

“Sam you are in the Grove what happens or is said in the Grove stays in the Grove.  Now let’s talk truffle butter”

 

 

Chapter 15

Today was a session day.

I hated actually having to go walk the halls of the Capital.

Very little meaningful lobbying work got done in the building itself.  And if the truth be told you could take all the meaningful debates and legislative action and get an entire legislative session done in a short afternoon.  The rest of the time the legislature was busy passing resolutions recognizing some bullshit local group for some bullshit local accomplishment and when they finished that they would pass legislation named after someone.  My all-time favorite was the Pay Pedro Act, which was a budget amendment that provided $32.7 million dollars to a health clinic in New Jersey run by former Senator, now convict, Pedro Empanada’s brother.  That they actually called it the Pay Pedro Act was the height of arrogance, which no one bothered to investigate until Pedro’s brother was arrested in New Jersey for trying to pass counterfeit $2 bills was classic Albany.

The real problem with being in the Capital on a session day was that you became the target of every legislator that wanted you to donate to their campaign account.  Now it was a felony to ask for campaign donations while in the actual capital building but that didn’t stop these greedy elected.  They were blatant about the quid pro quo reality of passing legislation, everything was for sale.  Had they set up a Turkish bazaar with curbside camel parking it would have appeared less corrupt.

I had barely skipped thru the security gate line by tipping the state trooper on duty, it was amazing what these law enforcement types would do for a $2 bill, the cheap bastards.  Fortunately I had purchased over $5000 of $2 bills from Senator Empanada for $375 before he went to prison, it was a buyers’ market, and having $2 bills for tipping in this town was important.  Most of the lobbyists tipped only a dollar, which was enough for the state troopers but was frowned upon by the coffee baristas at the coffee shop on the first floor.  When I was approached by some downstate Assemblywomen.

“Leathers can we talk for a minute about your clients bill to exempt truffle butter from sales tax?”

“Certainly Assemblywomen, how can I help you?”

“Well Leathers if the truth be told I’m not a big truffle butter fan. But I am having a fundraiser tomorrow night at the Fort Lemon Club can I count on you for a table?”

“Now Assemblywoman you know that the capital is not the place to talk fundraiser”

“And you know Leathers that it’s not the place to talk truffle butter tax exemption legislation either”

“I understand your point, I’ll see you at the Fort Lemon event”

“That’s great my staff will be in touch to collect payment or you can just drop your check at my office upstairs, and by the way feel free to provide me a sample of that truffle butter I like to be well informed before I vote on legislation”

Thank god she was an assemblywomen with no real power, it made it exceedingly unlikely that our conversation had been recorded.  The last thing I needed at this point was to be drawn into Ping Pong’s RICO case.

As I continued along the corridor to the elevators I noticed a series of pieces of paper taped to the wall, the first piece was a flyer announcing a fundraiser for Senator Squabble.  Squabble was the youngest member of the Senate, I think he was about 26 years old and acted like he was 16.  It played well in his Senate district which had 37 colleges located within it, but he would have a short career unless the district aged along with him.  At this point in time he was riding high, literally, as a new snow board manufacturer had just opened a factory in the district with over 100 new jobs and Squabble was taking full credit for the job growth, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with it.  The deal had been financed by no interest state job fund loans arranged by Mclowey, who then wrote a book “Profiles in Snowboarding” and the factory had been built on land owned by Hibert with a small real estate title policy being written by Shady Washington’s mom.  The flyer looked like it belonged on a college bulletin board and read:

“Join us at the Fort Lemon Club basement chill room for Senator Danny “Chillaxing” Squabble’s rave and fundraiser.   We will be collecting coin at the door to support Dan’s chill lifestyle and to thank him for bringing rad boards to the hood.  Minimum cover is $500.  All those supporting tax free truffle butter need to be representing as we churn some butter in the private VIP rooms”

Well if nothing else you had to admire his low key approach to graft.

Just pass the last flyer and in the alcove for the elevators I bumped into Speaker Washington’s speechwriter, John Mchardle.  John was an old Albany pro with a drinking problem.  Being a drunk in Albany politics wasn’t a problem it was almost required, the problem was he was an exceedingly mean drunk with a penchant for urinating on everyone around him if they annoyed him.  For a short Irishman he had an amazingly large bladder.

“What’s up John? How’s it hanging?”

“Oh it’s just fine Leathers, but thanks for asking”

Clearly John wasn’t drunk yet something important must be going on.

“What are you working on John?”

“Washington wants to give a speech at his fundraiser tonight, are you going?”

“Of course I am where and when?”

“No clue but probably at the Fort Lemon Club you want me to find out?  Can I put you down for a couple of tables?”

“Sure, what’s the speech about?”

“Siler got to Shady last night and convinced him to link that tax exemption for truffle butter to the Dream Act”

“Are you serious? That will kill it in the Senate, fuck me!”

“Relax Leathers, you know how the game is played, just get Hibert to buy in with a roll back on the Safe Act.  Turn truffle butter into the big ugly”

“Yea good idea John, by the way had you heard that Richard was telling everyone that you were in Ravi’s McLaren sucking his cock when he got arrested?”

I could see the anger building all that was need now was some alcohol and tonight’s fundraiser for Washington could turn into a pissfest for Richard.

As I boarded the elevator to watch the session in the Assembly I saw Oscar Hibert with the large well-dressed gentleman from the Grove last night.  The elevator doors closed and it was the 3 of us and Casey Sailer in the elevator.

“Leathers, I’d like to thank you for sending me those four new clients that I’m not lobbying for”

He actually winked at me, the kid was a complete fucking idiot.  I looked at Sailer but he was oblivious as he was underlining his copy of Proust.

“I’d also like to introduce you to my newest client, Lev Behuda, who is paying me $100000 a month NOT to lobby for a medical marijuana license, we’re going up to see Daddy about making sure I don’t lobby for any other groups that want one of those licenses, Lev is a Jew you know”

At this point Casey dropped his highlighter and my cellphone rang, the number calling was listed as “Cleaning Inspection Agency”.

“I’m a little busy Alex”

“I know, tell that fucking idiot Oscar, that I will be at his father’s fundraiser tonight so he can stop calling me”

“Fundraiser?”

“I have to run Leathers that’s God on the other line he needs my advice on amending the Ten Commandments”

Oscar stopped picking his nose long enough to make it clear he had overheard.

“I’m sure you knew Leathers but Daddy is having a big fundraiser tonight at the Fort Lemon Club, if he hasn’t already collected your donation I can take it now in cash”

“No that’s fine Oscar I never discuss fundraisers in the Capital and especially not in an elevator with a member of the press present”

“You are mistaken Leathers, Lev isn’t with the media he’s part of Mazel Tov the Israeli mob”

Sailer cleared his throat and closed his copy of Proust.

“That should be he is a part of Mazel Tov.  You need the “a” to be grammatically correct”

At that point the elevator doors opened and Sailer walked out.

“You want I should stick that little schmendrake in a pickle barrel for you Mr. little hose?”

“I don’t think they have Jewish pickles in the cafeteria here do they Leathers?”

I left the elevator convinced that Oscar may have been the dumbest person in the building.  And since this was the state capital that was quite the accomplishment.

As I walked into the Assembly the local Assemblyman was reading a proclamation recognizing the local lacrosse team for making the sectionals for the 10th straight year.  Of course no one mentioned that every team in the section made sectionals and every member of every team got a participation trophy, such was the world of youth sports.

“And so it is with great pleasure that I hereby proclaim that the Albany High School Barking Dogs lacrosse team is recognized for its outstanding accomplishments . . .”

As I scanned the chambers I only saw 5 or 6 members present and they were all on their phones, probably dialing for dollars, trying to raise donations for their reelection campaigns.

“. . . And whereas the following players have contributed their time and energy . . .”

Senator Squabble saw me and started over.  What was a senator doing in the Assembly chambers?

“. . . Rickey “porn star” Savage, Blaine ”the blind man” Benner, Matt “fat” Fisher, Liam “twiggy” Dollard, Kevin “kosher” Carmody and C.J. “leaky bucket” Alessandrini”

Squabble stopped in front of me and extended his fist to bump knuckles.

“Yo Leathers brah, am I gonna be swapping digits with yur bitches tonight”

“Huh?”

“What I got ta spell it out for you dude, I need your peeps to bring me some lucre if you want your truffle butter sales tax exemption to pass”

“Really Senator in chambers you are going to hit me up on a pay for play?”

“Chill dude I’m a senator and this is the assembly none of my shit can be clocked here it’s all good”

“I look forward to your support senator”

“You drop the dollahs and I’ll make the senate hollah”

What the fuck was this world coming to?

Finally I saw Sam Casey at Munro’s desk, I walked over and sat down.

“I hate this place Sam”

“Me too Leathers but what’s the alternative?”

“Dejardin thinks anonymous donations will solve the problem”

“Solves one problem but causes another”

“What’s that?”

“No donations at all, how will these politicians pay their personal expenses?”

“With their own money?”

“Now that may be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard you say Leathers, their own money”

Sam fell down laughing which disturbed the Assemblyman at the next desk he looked up and said.

“Do you gentleman mind I am very busy calling my donors for my birthday party fundraiser this evening, you can just throw a couple of hundred dollar bills in my desk and I’ll see you at the Fort Lemon Club tonight”

As Cadillac Curtis used to say campaign donations are just the price of admission to the sport of politics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 16

I arrived back at the office after a full day of wasted time in the Capital.

I had just enough time to go over my evening schedule with Pat before I had to leave for the first of what would be 16 fundraisers this evening.

“Looks like you have 13 events tonight Leathers starting at 6pm at the Fort Lemon Club for Senator Volmer”

“Nope I added 3 more while I was at the capital, all 3 are at the Fort Lemon, one for that Assemblywomen from upstate Gigglebrand or Gildersleeve I can’t remember, then Washington has his first event this week, I bought two tables and I told Squabble I’d go to his rave whatever the fuck that is”

“You’re going to Squabble’s rave? Do you plan to visit the VIP room?”

“Probably, if it’s VIP I should be there”

Pat giggled like a little school girl.

“Well before you go into the VIP room take these”

She handed me two small vials that looked like smelling salts.

“What are they and what do I do with them?”

“Amyl Nitrate just pop them and sniff it like smelling salts”

“Why would I take these?”

“Leathers if you end up in the VIP room you might be catching not pitching and these will help”

“How would you know?”

“Been there done that, I went to a lot of fundraisers when I was with the angels”

“These look illegal where did you get them”

“Danny gave them to me the last time we had dinner”

“Danny huh? Did you ever . . .”

“Did I ever what?”

“Never mind.  What’s the rest of the fundraiser schedule look like?”

“Of the 13 events 8 are at the Lemon, 3 are at the University Club in Saratoga”

“Saratoga? It’s not even track season why is anyone going up there?”

“The casino, they give heavily discounted event packages so a lot of the Assembly fundraisers for the Republicans are held there, you get the room and catering for $100 and 100 rolls of quarter tokens for the slot machines.”

“Send Murray to Saratoga where are the last two”

“One at the Grove and one in Senator O’Flahraty’s office at the Legislative Office Building”

“A fundraiser in his Senate office?  Is he crazy?  Even our local District Attorney can figure out that’s a felony”

“Well first he had no choice, the Lemon was fully booked this evening and second The DA is going to be up in Saratoga, he loves free slot play”

“Okay send the new intern Amanda to O’Flahratys’ and make sure you tell her not to fuck any staff person below the Deputy level”

“Leathers be nice she is Mclowey’s sisters husbands best friends daughter”

“Fine then she can fuck whomever she wants tonight but remind her if she wanted to fuck state workers she should have gotten a job as a secretary in the Legislature not as an intern for a lobbyist.  We give jobs to legislator’s family members in return for passing legislation not to get them laid”

“Wow you are in a bad mood, may I remind you if it weren’t for interns you might have been celibate for the vast majority of your time working in the legislature”

“You may not.  Who has the Grove fundraiser?”

“Ping Pong, he has started an exploratory committee to run for Mayor in New York”

“He wants to be Mayor of New York City but he holds his first fundraiser in Albany?  What’s the table price and who is going?”

“That’s the weird thing, he specifically said no lobbyists or their clients are invited”

“That’s just more bullshit good government window dressing, how much does he want if you don’t attend?”

“He says he is not accepting donations from lobbyists or their clients’ period”

“So who is invited?”

“Elected members of the Senate and Assembly only”

“That fucking guy is a genius so the only people that can send him money are the ones he is threatening to put in jail?  My god he has raised the bar on pay to play.  He turned fundraising into pay or pray.  Didn’t Rice do something similar when he ran for reelection as Attorney General?”

“Kind of but he would fund raise from targets of his investigations along with everyone else, Ping is refining his fundraising message it’s very clear if you don’t donate you will be indicted”

“I have news for you Pat I think even if you do donate this guy will indict you, he thinks he is on a mission from God.  How did we get an invite?”

“We didn’t but I got us a seat at Hibert’s table in return for donating enough money to Hibert to buy the table.  I was told he did the same thing with 9 other lobbyists and their clients for a ten person table.  So it ends up being you, Hibert and eight other swinging dicks at the Grove. . . so here’s two more poppers enjoy.”

“Who are the other eight?”

“I wasn’t able to get the full list but Richard, Danny, Bobby, Jennifer and some guy named Lev Behuna for sure.  And I heard former Senator Nicky Spanko has been released from prison and is now lobbying with that new group Momentum Associates, he is supposed to be there”

“Okay I’ll do all the Lemon events and then hit the Grove last.  Anything else important?”

“Yes Karp delivered a package for you and said to call him.  Have fun Mort and relax let the Amyl Nitrate do its job you may even find you like it”

“I’m not taking it up the ass Pat, I’ll leave that to Danny and former Governor Mazzone”

“I think you will find Danny is far more open minded about his body than you are Mort, grow up”

When Pat left I opened Karp’s package to find a new recording device.

I called Karp.

“Why do I need a new recorder?”

“Leathers we want you to record the event at the Grove tonight”

“But why a new recorder?”

“It’s an app based recorder that works off of cell phone signals it will allow us to listen to conversations from everyone’s cell phones within 20 feet of it”

“It looks like the FBI is moving up in the technology world huh?”

“Not really one of our agents picked it up as a free sample at Radio Shack.  Do you see the frequency setting on the side?”

“Yes”

“Select frequency 3”

“Why 3?”

“Because Ping Pong is using 1 for his table bugs and Spanko will be recording on 2”

“Spanko is working for you guys?”

“How do you think he got out of jail so quick I’ll see you at Eggy’s tomorrow for breakfast”

What was going to be a light night of fundraisers by Albany standards just got very busy.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 17

I was exhausted by the time I walked into the Grove for Ping’s fundraiser.  It had been a rather routine night of bad conversation and even worse food with watered down drinks served by low level legislative staff members to mid-level legislative staff members who had been told by top level legislative staff members that they could not leave the fundraiser until it was officially over.  Like every other lobbyist I did a hit and run, circled the room with whichever client was in town and tried to steal any other lobbyist’s clients that were left unchaperoned.  It was like a high school dance where the school stud tries to steal the dork’s date.  If you were a lobbyist that was dumb enough to bring a client and not keep a watchful eye on him or her you deserved to have that client stolen from you.  It would be more cost effective and a better use of time if they outlawed fundraisers and made it legal to just provide elected officials bribes to cover their routine expenses.  Just a quick look at any elected’s campaign account made it abundantly clear they used the campaign accounts to support their lifestyles and pay for their criminal defense attorneys and anything left over was used for campaigning.  After all who really needed to campaign, they were all reelected unless they were in jail.  The creative ones were now using campaign accounts to pay friends and family to perform “consulting” services for the campaigns.  Which, from my point of view, was better than my firm having to hire those same friends and family to provide “consulting” services to the firm.  It was still the lobbyist’s money but at least when the campaign paid you didn’t have the management headaches, the fuck up, relative de jour was someone else’s nightmare when they used the campaign’s credit card for online dating services.

The only real excitement pre Grove, came when John Mchardle ran into Richard at Squabble’s rave and in front of a large group of 20 something outer borough douchebags who were all pretending to be George Stephanopolis, proceeded to climb onto a balcony and piss on Richard and everyone else in a 10 foot radius, Mchardle had been drinking all night and had a huge bladder so the devastation was widespread.

As I entered the Grove the first thing I noticed were Jelly’s uncles, cousins and assorted henchmen seated at the bar but facing away from the bar and into the main room where the fundraiser was being held.  It looked like the front row of a major boxing match in Vegas.  Everybody wearing tracksuits with bulges under their jackets and looks of rapt attention on their faces.  I’d never seen more than a table of wise guys at any one time in the Grove, just enough to let you know it was a mob owned restaurant but not enough to scare the regulars.  Tonight it was standing room only at the bar and they were smelling blood as they heckled the suits walking in.

I saw Jelly at the end of the bar and walked over.

“Jelly what the fuck is going on?”

“Whadda ya talking about?’

I’d never heard Jelly speak in anything but proper English.

“I mean what’s with all the muscle at the bar?”

“Don’t worry about it the boys just came to watch, call it professional curiosity”

“Professional curiosity?”

“Sure, you never see this many criminals and cops in one place unless it’s in prison”

“Cops?”

“Didn’t you notice? Pings got at least a couple of hundred FBI and federal marshals here,  fuck there are so many cops I don’t have a single cannoli left they stole them all”

“Why so many? You don’t need that kind of security for a fundraiser and the Grove has never been the kind of place you had to worry about violence, especially with the boys in the bar”

“Nah, none of that, all the guys say it looks like a roundup that’s why they’re here they want to watch,  For a criminal it’s like a major sporting event, they don’t want to miss it”

“Should I leave?”

“Nah if they wanted you they would knock on your door early some morning this is a made for television event, sit back and enjoy the show.  Ping is a stone cold gangsta, the boys say ever since he started going after politicians they have been free to do their thing, they love him”

“Is that why you let him use the Grove?”

“Sort of but he jammed me up pretty good for receiving stolen property, those fucking clams are expensive if you actually have to buy them legit.  He gave me a choice do 3 years or let him do his fundraiser at the Grove gratis, it wasn’t a tough choice”

“Yea been there done that”

“Well enjoy your evening just two things I should warn you about”

“What’s that?”

“One, the big Jew at your table is carrying and the boys are still deciding what to do about it and two stay as far away from Richard as you can it smells like he pissed himself”

When I reached the table and looked around it was a who’s who of elected officials and major donors.  I took an empty seat across from Richard and next to legendary Republican donor Chris Braggadocia.

“Chris good to see you what brings you to a fundraiser for a member of the other team?”

“Hibert put the arm on me for the whole table which makes you my guest”

“Sorry Chris, I bought the table too, I think everybody bought the table which means the hose hosed all of us”

“It smells like he hosed Richard just a little bit more, he smells like a train station men’s room”

“No I’m pretty sure that was Mchardle’s doing.”

Chris laughed out loud.

“Rookie mistake you never stand near John when he’s been drinking, huge bladder on that leprechaun.  By the way who’s the big kike with the gun?”

“Lev Behuda, he’s supposed to be with the Israeli mob and doing something with Richard and Ravi out by the microdot factory, dorms and dope”

“If he’s a mobster why isn’t he at the bar with the rest of Jelly’s family?”

“Think bar mitzvah not baptism, I don’t think Jelly’s guys appreciate his presence here nor his attempts to enter the dope and dorm business”

“Now a shootout would be exciting wouldn’t it?”

At that moment Alex Shimmel appeared and took a seat at the table next to Chris and me.

“Gentleman, am I in time for the fun?”

Chris looked at me and said.

“How long have you known Alex Leathers?”

“I just met him last week, he is a client”

“Client huh?  Which CIA front are you using with Leathers Alex?”

“Please Chris there is no need for animosity, I’m sure the Agency will make you whole on that Bermuda onions for oil deal.  Relax and enjoy Pings show tonight I hear it will be one to remember for a long time”

Alex’s cell phone went off and as he looked at it he said”

“Gotta take this guys, its Tom Brady he needs my advice on this soft balls fiasco”

Chris and I looked at each other as Alex magically disappeared and Ping tapped the microphone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 18

As Ping tapped the microphone to get the crowd’s attention I noticed Lev fiddling with his shoulder holster.

“Mr. Behuda you seem to be uncomfortable is it the fact you are wearing a suit or is it because you have banked your future on Richard and Ravi?’

Behuda slowly turned towards me.

“Mr. Bigshot Leathers you think because you are fellow Jew I not stuff your ass in a pickle barrel you keep fucking with me?”

“Easy Mr. Behuda you’re at a fundraiser a little ball breaking is to be expected, no disrespect intended”

“Fuck you and fuck that dot headed blow job addicted Ravi and most definitely fuck that piss smelling con artist sitting there getting ready to shit his pants”

I looked at Richard who indeed looked ready to shit his pants, Lev was showing true unbridled rage the type of rage you only saw when a politician didn’t get the free seats they wanted to the Yankee game.

“Mr. Behuda a man in your position shouldn’t have to attend an event like this.  Richard should have explained you make your donation and let your lobbyist have to eat the rubber chicken and drink the watered down drinks.”

“So I should just stay home and let Mr. pisspants put my money to sleep?  Maybe I just go to my car and get my other gun, the big one, shoot all you lobbyists and politicians do the world a big favor”

“Mr. Behuda that’s not the way we do things in this town, violence is rarely needed to achieve ones goals”

“That’s the same thing that Stork guy said when he was bobbing for pickles.  Mr. Piss over there promised I get the dope license and then I get the real estate to build dorms then I get more rich, instead all I get so far is ripped off by dead man in a pickle barrel and about to be dead man who take free blow job from my employee and bullshit promises from Mr. Piss who I not stuff in pickle barrel cause. . .”  Lev paused as two of Jelly’s cousins stood up and yelled over.

“Why don’t you sit down and shut up you kosher clown, the man at the microphone is trying to speak”

Lev headed to the bar drawing his 9 millimeter Sig Sauer.

“Fuck you you cannoli eating Dago motherfuckers”

Before shots were fired the nearest waiter who I assumed was an FBI agent by the number of sugar packets in his pockets, intercepted Lev and said loud enough for all to hear.

“This is a fundraiser no one should leave before the main speaker is finished it’s just plain rude”

Lev immediately sat down at one end of the bar and Jelly’s cousins sat down at the other end.  Both parties placed their guns on the bar top and turned their attention to Ping at the microphone.

I whispered to Richard.

“See what happens when you bring amateurs to a fundraiser.  It’s embarrassing for Christ sakes.  Whatever you are doing Richard get your mind back on your business this kind of thing is bad for business.  And go ask Jelly for a clean suit to wear”

“Thank you all for attending.  I apologize for the commotion by the bar hopefully those gentleman with guns will settle their differences without the need for law enforcement to get involved . . . after all we have more important crimes to be involved in investigating like political corruption.  As you know I have been actively investigating political corruption in our state capital ever since . . . well ever since our polling data told us that ethics reform was the best way to position ourselves for future elected office.  I’m just kidding the polling data says the public couldn’t care less about ethics reform but they do like seeing politicians get perp walked.  So with that thought in mind thank you for your generous donations and by a show of hands can I see which elected officials have not delivered a supplemental donation to my campaign?  The federal marshals will now be circulating thru out the room with arrest warrants for anyone with their hand up who doesn’t care to make a supplemental donation.  Those being arrested please accompany the Marshalls to the front door where the media can get a photo op of your being placed in the backseat of a black suv.  As for the remainder of the invited guests let’s wait a moment for those being arrested to leave before we continue the event”

Hibert, whose hand was up turned to the table and said.

“I didn’t bring a check can one of you guys cover me?”

Oscar Hibert immediately reached for his checkbook but his father quickly grabbed his hand.

“What’s wrong with you we never use our own money, worst case we use campaign funds”

I was the quickest with a check I had been taught early on that when a politician asks for money just give it to them it’s cheaper than having to deal with their temper tantrums.

“It’s my pleasure Mr. Leader here you go now let’s enjoy the rest of the fundraiser”

As the politicians who did not have the foresight to bring their campaign account checkbook or a pliable lobbyist with them were being escorted out in handcuffs the mobsters in the bar were cheering as if the local sports team had just scored in the last minute to cover the spread and they had won their bets.  And I noticed Lev Behuda had disappeared either under his own power or with assistance from Jelly’s family.

Ping tapped the microphone again.

“I’m sad to report that all 6 of your fellow legislators whom we just arrest have provided us sufficient information about the misuse of per diems by their fellow legislators for us to now issue subpoenas to all public officials in attendance who have collected a per diem while not legally entitled to receive said funds.  As you look around that means all of you who are here this evening.  Enjoy the subpoena, I look forward to having a conversation with each and every one of you in the near future.  In the meantime please finish your coffee and thank you for making this the largest fundraiser in Albany history.”

I turned to Chris.

“Well that could have been a lot worse”

“No doubt about it, I think Ping is on to something that’s a game changer”

“Do you mean his corruption investigations?”

“No I mean this whole pay or pray fundraising approach.  It is going to give any law enforcement type running for office a huge advantage.  I can see our local District Attorney raising enough money to run for any office he wants.  In addition I’m going out on a limb but I’ll bet you he just made your whole industry obsolete.”

“Come on Chris let’s not overstate things lobbying has been a big business in this town for over 100 years why would it change just because a couple of politicians go to jail.  It’s happened before it will happen again”

Chris shook his head “Think about it Leathers after tonight which politician is going to be willing to horse trade on legislation?  No horse trading no lobbyists are needed.  If I were you I’d get into the crisis management consulting business in a hurry, more upside”

“I’ll give that some thought Chris, thanks for the advice”

Could Chris be right?  I didn’t think so but I should give it some serious thought.  In the meantime I had absolutely nothing to give Karp.  The fundraiser was over and nobody was staying to gossip.  Maybe Chris was right.  This town seemed to be changing right in front of my eyes.

As Cadillac Curtis used to say “The only sure thing in Albany is that there is always a greedier motherfucker than you are”

A plan was starting to form in my subconscious, time to visit Jamie for a dose of Amish wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 19

I called Jamie from the Audi as I drove over to her loft.  I couldn’t just show up since it wasn’t our normal appointment and in this town a relaxation consultant of Jamie’s talent was always working.

“Hi, can I stop over?”

“I have a client scheduled in 20 minutes is it important?”

“I need your advice”

“No you need to tell me what you are going to do and you want me to agree with you”

“That’s not true I value your advice”

“That’s bullshit but if you are willing to pay for my time I’ll push Senator Flannery back one hour”

“Senator Flannery?  Mr. Law and Order family man?  That’s a bit hypocritical isn’t it?”

“Is it? You’re the one that introduced me to him”

“Did I?  Well that was before”

“Before what?”

“Before we became friends”

“Friends?  If we are friends why do you pay me?”

“Because in this town if you’re not paying for it you can’t expect to receive it”

“Leathers you need professional help”

“That’s why I see you”

“I’m not that kind of professional”

“Give yourself more credit Jamie, your friendship has been very beneficial to me and profitable for you”

“Don’t flatter yourself Mort, I could make triple the money in your timeslot.  Remember the first rule of politics don’t fall in love with your whore”

“If you could make triple the money why do you see me?”

“Because you’re my friend see ya soon”

What the fuck just happened, did the teacher become the student?  I went to Jamie to sort things out and now it seemed that talking to her and the feelings I had for her was confusing me.

 As I walked into Jamie’s loft she had made homemade ginger snaps and real root beer.  I wondered if she made them for me or her other clients.  And since she had another client arriving in under an hour I got right to it.

With half a ginger snap in my mouth I asked the question that had been bothering me ever since the fundraiser.

“Jamie do you think I’m too old to start a new career?”

“A new career? Like what a personal injury lawyer or a sports agent?”

Sports agent, I hadn’t thought of that I did represent the New York Mets when they were trying to get state funds to renovate Shea Stadium, but like most lobbyists my knowledge of sports was limited to playing golf and getting free seats at high profile sporting events for legislators, I didn’t think I could pull off being a sports agent, most of the bullshit I shoveled as a lobbyist to my clients and public officials would never work with a teenager from the inner city, they were too astute to fall for it.

“Sports agent? Are you fucking with me?  I wouldn’t waste my time trying to help some gang banger buy a new Bentley.  What I do matters for my clients and the legislators alike, without people like me this town couldn’t function”

“If what you do is so important why are you asking me about doing something different?”

“Because if things keep going the way they are the lobbying I know won’t exist anymore.  It will all be done by some 20 something asshole living in Brooklyn and buying and selling space on some social media platform or fake reality show.”

“Do you mean like that new show “The Candidate”?  I Love that show”

The Candidate was a new reality show that went around the country trying to let the public identify the next candidate for congress.  It was like America’s Got Talent meets American Idol for politics.  I had to admit that even though it was produced for Joe six pack I watched it too.  The characters were compelling and the issues were relevant.  In fact now that I thought about it I should research who was behind it.  They might be 10 steps ahead of everyone else in using reality shows to really push agenda advocacy and political spin.  If Bragadoccio was right that the cigar and cocktail brand of lobbying I practiced was on its way out this new made for television issue advocacy might be the next big thing.

“Maybe”

“You’re really worried that your business will suffer?”

“Jamie I’m worried that I’m selling 8 tracks and downloadable music is already here”

“So get out and do something else”

“That’s why I asked if you thought I was too old to start over”

“Mort it’s not about starting over for you it’s about getting out, you don’t know how to leave”

“Huh?”

Now I felt like a new legislator at my first fundraiser, dazed and confused.

“You will never leave the life you need someone to tell you that you aren’t allowed to lobby anymore, it’s like leaving the Amish.”

“Leaving the Amish?”

“Sure, you never asked me how I got out of Lancaster”

“I just assumed you got caught blowing some tourist in the backseat of one of those buggies and they exiled you”

“You are an idiot Mort, the Amish don’t have hang-ups about blowjobs, and sex is no big deal on the farm”

“So how did you get out?”

“I did really well in school, straight A’s and that was in the English school, I did so well that I just kept going the English wouldn’t let my parents pull me out of school and then I went to college and all the Amish shunned me for doing something alien to them”

“That was it? You got straight A’s?”

“And I blew my guidance counselor but that was after I got into Boston Collage”

“Doing well in school forced your community to force you out?  How does that apply to me?”

“You call it an Amish fable but you need to find the good thing that everyone in your business can’t live with and if you keep doing that they will force you to do something else”

“Jamie I’m a lobbyist what could I possibly do that would offend my industry enough to kick me out”

“I don’t know maybe be honest”

Be honest . . . what a concept, could I do it?  Let me try it with Jamie.

“Jamie would you . . .”

I froze, the words halfway out of my mouth and petrified to complete my thought.

“Would I what Mort?”

“Nothing . . . I’m sorry I have to run”

As I reached my Audi I saw Senator Flannery getting out of his Lincoln Town Car with Senate plates.

“Senator, strange to see you here at this hour”

“Really Leathers? We’ve been visiting the same whore for 10 years”

“You might be visiting a whore Senator I’m visiting my friend”

Oh my God this honesty thing felt pretty good.

“A friend Leathers? OK if that helps you sleep at night, by the way say hello to your wife and kids when you get home for me”

And there it was.  If I was going to be honest I would have to be honest with myself first.  And if I was going to be honest with myself I had to admit I was a total asshole, a totally loathsome human being, I was a lobbyist.

I got back in the Audi and headed home thinking about my future and if I had one.  Breakfast at Eggy’s tomorrow with Karp at least would bring some sense of normalcy to my life, if only to watch Karp steal the sugar and stick me with the bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 20

As I pulled up to Eggy’s I noticed a large paper sign on the front door.  It read “Seized by the US Department of Justice – Administrative Forfeiture”

Karp was leaning against the front of the building.

“What’s going on? Eggy’s has been seized?”

“Yup, turns out Jackson Lopresti had a hidden interest in the place”

Jackson was a so so lobbyist.  He mostly represented the smaller labor unions.

“Why would Jackson having an investment in Eggy’s cause it to be seized by the Feds?”

“We did it under Title 19, no judicial involvement we just take it”

“We?”

“Yes we, more precisely me.  Do you know that prick Lopresti actually installed coin vending on the sugar packets?  He wanted a dime every time you needed a sugar packet.  Well fuck him now.  He’s out and we own it.”

“The federal government is going to run Eggy’s?”  My head was spinning.

“Nah, the government can’t run a restaurant.  If we can fuck up the lottery can you imagine what we would do in a restaurant?  No it will get auctioned off and new owners will take over.  But let’s talk about more important things, what did you get at Ping’s fundraiser?”

“Absolutely nothing, that crazy Jew, Lev Behuda almost got in a gun fight with Jelly’s guys, then after the arrests no one and I mean no one was talking about anything.  You guys have scared everyone so much that they just shut up, worried about being taped.”

“That’s crazy, people have been taped in Albany forever, and you know that as well as anyone.  What’s changed?”

“I think it’s how high profile Ping has made corruption.  It used to just be the cost of doing business in government now Ping is playing for blood and dragging families and friends into it.  It’s like he thinks he’s Giuliani and we’re the Mafia”

“He’s fucking up a good thing that’s for sure.  He’s in such a rush to announce his presence with authority that he doesn’t realize he’s going to miss a lot.  It’s like that old Amish story about the cows”

Amish story?  Could Karp be one of Jamie’s clients?

“What Amish story?”

“I know this Amish lady and she told me her Uncle used to tell her a story about these two bulls, one old and one young, that were on a hill and saw a herd of cows, the young one said lets run down there and fuck us some cows, the old one responded let’s walk and fuck all of them.  Makes sense don’t you think?”

“Fuck you Andy, this isn’t some bullshit Amish common sense thing, Ping is changing the very way we do our jobs, both of us”

“I know Mort it’s sad but sometimes you just have to accept change and make the best of it”

“Is that so Andy?  How do you plan on making the best of it?  What else can you do if there is no political corruption left in Albany?  Do you plan on transferring to the anti-terrorist section?”

“That’s not funny Mort.  Maybe I’ll just buy Eggy’s myself”

“You, buy Eggy’s?  You would never retire from the bureau it’s all you know”

“People change Mort, but you better hope I don’t retire because right now the only thing protecting you from that crazy Jew is me”

“What are you talking about, Behudas got no issue with me”

“Now that’s where you’re wrong, Leathers.  Last night when Behuda left the fundraiser he had a meeting with Jelly’s uncle Vince Iorrizo.  The Iorizzos are expanding their business now that everyone is focused on political corruption and they cut a deal with Behuda to run the importation and sale of marijuana”

“What does that have to do with me?”

“The word around town is you are working for this guy Alex Shimmel at Contemporary Interior Accents to stop Behuda from opening those pot dorms Ravi and Richard are lobbying for”

“So?”

“Well take this as a compliment but the Iorizzos and Behuda think you are better than Richard at what you do so the most cost effective solution is to remove you from the equation”

“They want to kill me?  I’m just a lobbyist”

“They want to kill you because you are a lobbyist, that and Vince is pissed that you never asked for his help on anything, the Italians are funny that way”

“What do I do Andy?  I’m no tough guy.  I’m just a lobbyist I live off of my ability to corrupt others.  How can I corrupt stone cold criminals?”

“You can’t.  You’ve been dealing with armatures your whole career these guys are pros.  I talked with Vince though and told him I still needed you so out of professional courtesy they aren’t going to let Behuda pickle you but you have to fire Shimmel and I have no idea what he will do”

Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.  My choice was pissing off the mafia or pissing off whomever it was that Alex worked for.

Cadillac Curtis never warned me about anything like this and somehow embracing serendipity just seemed like a half assed way to survive at this point.

“Andy what would you do in my shoes?”

“We’ve known each other a long time Mort, my advice is first thing stop asking people for advice.  If you have to rely on an Amish whore and a cheap FBI agent to tell you what to do you are well and truly fucked”

I looked at Andy, he was just smiling, and he hadn’t said a word.  I was talking to myself in my own head.

“Didn’t you hear what I just didn’t say to you?  All I can tell you Leathers is buy some time and see what happens.  At this point you’re just along for the ride”

Just along for the ride?   That sounded a lot like embrace serendipity.  I hadn’t been just along for the ride in 30 years I wasn’t going to start now.  I am Mort Leatherbaum I drive the bus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 21

As I drove away from a federally seized Eggy’s my cell phone rang.  I glanced down and saw it was Dante.

“Hello Dante”

“Mort what do you know what do you hear?”

“You called me so what do you know what do you hear?”

“I hear that Jenny Whorehouse got arrested last night”

“What for another corruption case?”

“Nope she ran into the back of an Albany police car”

“Big deal accidents happen all the time it’s not a crime”

“She blew a .20 and she was blowing Senator Hatcher”

“Wait a minute if she was blowing Hatcher her being drunk wouldn’t be a crime Hatcher must have been driving”

“Nope Jenny was driving and blowing Hatcher which is why she didn’t see the police car, so she gets arrested for a DUI and Hatcher ends up in the Albany med ER getting his pecker reattached”

“Still no big deal, lobbyists get drunk, lobbyists have sex with legislators and lobbyists get DUIs, its Albany after all”

“That’s not the whole story though, when Jenny is being fingerprinted she cracks and tells the desk sergeant that she can’t be arrested it will cause her to miss her spinning class and that she will blow the entire precinct if that will get her released.  The sergeant ignores her so she demands to talk to the District Attorney who as you know was up at the casino in Saratoga using his free slot play coupon.  When the sergeant ignores her Jenny starts listing all the inappropriate sexual liaisons occurring in politics.  The sergeant turns on a recorder that the FBI had placed in Hatcher’s briefcase and records the whole thing”

“If Jenny was really listing all the sex that goes on in politics she would still be talking”

“Well she listed enough that the Sargent sold the recording to the New York Times who is running a big story about how sex really is what makes things work in Albany not the bribes and corruption”

“That will drive Ping nuts, who made her list?”

“She admitted to sleeping with the Attorney General and the Governor on the same night, she admitted to sleeping with the last 3 speakers before Washington but not Washington she said he has a thing for black girls”

“Well that would make sense he is black”

“Would it? Because she said that she had pictures from the last caucus weekend of what they titled a piano key orgy”

“Piano key orgy? What the fuck is that?”

That’s when you have a bunch of black legislators fucking white girls with a minimum of a 5 to 1 ratio white to black”

“Hmmm learn something new every day I guess”

“She also said that the female reporter that does the news show on politics had slept with half the staffers in the senate”

“That happens to be true I can confirm that from personal experience”

“And she said Hibert had another family downstate that resulted from his affair with the head of Family Values that 501c3 Jennifer set up to lobby for tax credits for private schools”

“Wow Hibert’s going to go insane, that violates the Bear Mountain Compact his wife up here will kill him”

“Nope I spoke with him to give him the heads up, he’s not worried he says his wife never reads the New York Times so he’s safe”

“What else did Jenny say?”

“Mort it’s going to be a Sunday Times feature story its 12000 words the question is what didn’t she say”

“Still it’s just sex, the readers will enjoy reading it but nothing will change, a little embarrassment then back to business as usual”

“Mort you’re slipping, Ping is a creature of politics, he lives to be in the headlines and to control the news cycle, this is going to speed up his RICO indictment of the whole legislature, and you don’t have much time before the way of life you’ve known will be changed completely”

An idea started to form in my head, there was an opportunity here to solve a lot of problems that had been building.

“Dante can you get the Times reporter to add an interesting fact?”

“Depends on the fact”

“I heard that Jenny gave the police the name of a prostitute they she has used to provide sex to a lot of public officials . . . including Ping and a government spy named Alex Shimmel”

“Including Ping?  Wow what’s the name?”

“See if the reporter bites on the Ping and prostitute angle first, if they need a second source I’ll get the prostitute to call them, as an off the record source of course”

“What if they want her on the record?”

“Then we will have to get her to go on the record I guess”

This was Albany after all and we have lots of kitties.

 

Chapter 22

As I walked into my office Murray was waiting to see me. 

“Leathers I’m getting married and I want you to be my best man”

I needed this like a dose of venereal disease . . . again.

“That’s great Murray who is the lucky lady?”

“It’s Tim Dipaolo”

Tim Dipaolo was Senator Hiberts brother’s wife’s nephew, we had gotten him a job several years ago with the State Department of Taxation and Finance and he was now the number 3 man at tax.  Another piece of the puzzle may just have fallen in my lap.

“I didn’t know that you and Tim were a . . . “

“Couple?”

“Well yes but I meant gay”

“Well we are and we’re in love and we want to get married”

“So get married what the fuck do I care?”

“I thought you would be happy for me”

“I am Murray I’m just a little disappointed in you”

“Disappointed? Why?  My gay lifestyle hasn’t affected my work”

“But it has Murray don’t you see the mark of a great lobbyist is to take advantage of every opportunity and use it to your benefit and in that you have failed and hence my disappointment”

“What opportunity have I not taken advantage of?”

“The gay mafia”

“The gay mafia? What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the fact that there is a large population of people in government that share your lifestyle, they all know each other and they all help the cause am I right?”

“Well yes Leathers but it’s not something that I would ever take advantage of”

“And that Murray is why you will never be a great lobbyist.  But Albany needs merely competent lobbyists too.  But if you ever want to be a partner at Leathers and Lace and live the lifestyle I’m sure Tim wants you need to be great”

“And that means I have to use other gays to achieve my goals”

“That means you have to use every tool at your disposal, I’ll give you an example.  Right now our whole industry is under attack from Ping and this RICO witch hunt he is on.  We need intel on Ping and your fiancé can help us and help you by getting you a copy of Ping’s tax returns for the last decade or so.  With any luck he played fast and loose with his taxes after he cashed out on micro condoms.  You never know until you look.  Tim can get you a copy if you ask”

“And that would make me a partner?”

“No that would make you someone I’d be proud to call a lobbyist.  Making partner would mean the tax returns actually helped us and that you would learn how to leverage your sexuality to help the firm”

“And you don’t think it’s wrong to use my relationship with Tim to get the tax returns?”

“Wrong?  I think it’s a moral imperative.  If my wife worked at tax you can bet your gay ass I’d have a terminal at home wired directly into the tax department and I’d know every penny these motherfuckers made and spent”

“Leathers your wife is a marital therapist”

“And don’t you think Murray that if a politician was having marital difficulties I would know and use it to the firm’s advantage?”

“Well . . .”

“Murray how did you get your job here?”

“You hired me Leathers from Assemblyman Waxworth’s office”

“And what happened that made you want to leave public service?”

“Waxworth was going to resign because his wife found out he was on Ashley Madison and was going to divorce him and in his district that was the kiss of death.  There was no future with Waxworth”

“So my call to you at that exact time was a lucky coincidence huh?”

“Leathers was Waxworth your wife’s client?”

“Nope, the married gut that Waxworth’s wife was fucking on the side was.  You use what you have Murray that’s the mark of a great lobbyist, now go be great and let me know if your bachelor party needs to be a pitcher or catchers convention.   And by the way where are we with the truffle butter tax exemption bill?”

“I got Hiberts people to go for the big ugly we are wrapping it into the amendments on the safe/dream act.  With any luck it should pass both houses this week and go to the governor for signature next week.”

“That’s great Murray but let’s make sure it gets signed.  Check with the gay mafia and see if anyone is working on the big ugly that could throw a turd in the punch bowl”

“Turd in the punch bowl is that a gay double entendre?”

“Of course not Murray” 

Now I would have to research gay double entendres just to keep Murray on edge.

“But Murray do me a favor, ask Pat to bring me the takeout menu from that new sandwich shop”

“Which one is that Leathers?”

“You must have been there Murray . . . I think it’s called the Painted Pickle”

“That’s not funny Leathers”

Murray was right I was going to have to put a lot of work into my gay joke repertoire.

As Murray left Alex Shimmel surprised me and walked in.

“Hello Leathers did you congratulate Murray on his upcoming nuptials?”

“How did you know?”

“Know that he was getting married or know that he was gay?”

“Both, either”

“Well I introduced Murray to Tim several months ago, they make a lovely couple don’t you think?”

“You introduced them?”

“Of course I did how else were you going to get access to tax returns Leathers?  You’re not exactly a card carrying member of the mafia are you? And by mafia I mean both the real thing and the gay one.  So let’s talk about your Lev problem and your misplaced desire to terminate our professional relationship”

“How did you know that?”

“Please Leathers assume I know everything that you, Karp, Lev, Richard, Ravi and Jelly combined know.  Now what are you doing to stop Richard and the marijuana deal?”

“Look Alex you hired me for my expertise at what I do, the Italians and the Jews want to kill me because of that expertise, just let me do my job and if it’s not too much trouble keep me from becoming a kosher dill pickle”

“Relax Leathers you’re not going to be pickled by a psychotic Jew or shot in the back of the head with a small caliber firearm by the Italians.  But you might have to get a real job if Ping gets that monitor appointed and if my clients don’t get what they want we all end up in some bathroom in Miami Beach getting the chainsaw treatment.”

“Chainsaw?”

“Sure like in that Pacino movie “Scarface” great flick the company made a fortune on the distribution rights, I even got in the credits at the very end as a technical consultant, I love the movie business, now those motherfuckers in Hollywood are stone cold gangsters, you could learn something from them.”

“But Alex how . ..”

Alex’s cell phone vibrated.

“I’ve got to take this, it’s Ping he’s got some reporter calling him about hookers”

Alex left as quickly as he came in and I sat back in my chair wondering if all the moving pieces of my life would ever fall into place.

When I was this confused there was only one person I could count on to think outside the box and cut thru the bullshit.  I had him on retainer and on my speed dial but I rarely spoke with him because every conversation reminded me of Cadillac Curtis’s motto of the chump at the poker table.  It wasn’t a comfort to know you were the sixth best poker player in the world if you only played poker with the top five.

I picked up my phone and hit speed dial for Denny Dejardin anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 23

“Denny Dejardin, may I help you?”

“Yea Denny it’s Leathers, can you come in for a chat?”

“To your office?  Must be important, when?”

“Now”

“Can’t do it, I’ve got my kids baseball game”

I paid Denny a lot of money but he was infamous for playing by his own rules and if he decided he was going to go watch his kids baseball game there was little I could do about it, but I would try anyway.

“Denny I have you on a monthly retainer for which you do very little work I think the least you can do is come see me if I ask”

“Leathers you pay me the same amount as my other clients do and for which I am available to discuss matters with you 24/7.  Now I picked up the phone and I’m happy to talk to you but our retainer does not specify in person visits nor do I need to physically see you to help you with whatever problem you are having.  So either start telling me your problem or fire me, I’ve got a game to watch in an hour”

Denny was perhaps the most arrogant person I knew in a town full of arrogant assholes, but that in itself made it worth paying him his retainer.  And I knew if I fired him he would just fill my slot with someone else, probably a competitor and I’d be hard pressed to get him to work for me again.

“Okay Denny relax I just thought it would be easier in person.  I’ve got a problem”

“”I assumed as much when you called.  Compliance or strategy?  Must be strategy or you wouldn’t be so worked up.  Long term problem or short term?”

“Both”

“Start from the beginning and tell me the relevant facts in order oldest to newest”

“It started with Ravi getting arrested DWI while getting a blow job from a hooker”

“In the McLaren?”

“No in his wife’s jag”

“That makes sense, most things in this town start with a blow job in a luxury sedan”

“Right, so I then learned that Richard got Ravi bailed out and that Ravi and Richard were working on getting a marijuana license to use as the basis of building dorms with retail marijuana dispensaries on the ground floor”

“And Ravi used to be your client but now he is Richard’s?  Let me guess dorms built on land owned by Ravi?”

“Yes”

“But with money provided by someone else?”

“Yes”

“State grants?”

“No”

“So someone else’s money because Ravi and Richard don’t have that kind of financial liquidity”

“Correct, the financing came from the Jewish mafia in the form of an Israeli gangster named Lev Behuda who also provided the hooker that was blowing Ravi”

“Jewish mafia? Any violence yet?”

“Lev allegedly killed Jim Stork who was acting as the front on the real estate deals”

“I heard about that, a pickle barrel drowning right?  And I’m sure knowing Stork he couldn’t help himself from skimming the real estate deals, which gets him killed makes sense.  So how are you involved with the marijuana scam?”

“I got hired by a client to prevent the state from issuing any marijuana licenses”

“Who was the client?”

“Well that’s part of the problem, Roland referred them to me and it was supposed to be a routine assignment for a company by the name of Masilla at $5000 a month, but instead a guy named Alex Shimmel took the meeting and retained me to the tune of $50k a month, I think he is CIA and I’m pretty sure his partners are South American drug dealers”

“Let’s start with Roland, that prick still hasn’t hired me and it’s not the money it’s the fact that he thinks he doesn’t need me, as if he was smart enough to do it himself.  Which he might be since he got you to become involved with these people and he didn’t have to.  Remember that in the future, Roland is smarter than you think, or has a better survival instinct than you do.  Now this Shimmel guy what do you really know about him?”

“Only what I see, he travels on private jets, shows up at all hours, in all places seems to know everything and is constantly taking calls from everyone from the President to Tom Brady”

“And you think he is CIA?”

“Every company he seems to be associated with has the initials CIA”

“Meaningless, have you ever seen him actually speak with or meet with these people on the phone?”

“No”

“And have you actually been able to verify that he owns the jets or any other trappings of wealth?”

“Well no”

“So all you really know is that some individual has the financial wherewithal to rent a jet and pay you $50000?”

“I guess but come on who would do that?

“We will get to that, what happened after you met Shimmel?”

“I started to spike the marijuana licenses and before I know it Behuda and the Italian mob in the form of Jelly and his Uncles have joined forces and want me dead”

“That’s a problem”

“No shit”

“But you are still alive why is that?”

“Because Karp convinced them if they let me live that I would stop working for Shimmel’s guys”

“The same Andy Karp that’s been using you as a confidential FBI informant for the last 20 years? And did you fire Shimmel?”

“Yes that Karp and no because Shimmel said he could protect me from Behuda and the Italians and his people would chainsaw us to death if the marijuana dorms became a reality”

“Rock and a hard place for sure.  Anything else?”

“Yes I’m worried that Ping is going to issue a RICO indictment of the entire legislature and executive branch this week which will result in a federal monitor being appointed to be the fourth man in the room and lobbyists as we know them will all be out of work”

“I heard that’s what Ping was working on, actually a brilliant move but why this week?”

“Because the New York Times is doing a Sunday feature on sex and the legislature after Jenny Whorehouse was recorded listing all the sexual connections that occur between lobbyists, legislators, media and prostitutes”

“Well she would know wouldn’t she?”

“This isn’t funny Denny, your business relies on the status quo too you know”

“Relax Leathers this is manageable, let’s start with Ping and the end of lobbying as you know it.  Let Ping do his thing, embrace serendipity, unfurl your sail and go with it.  There will always be lobbying you just adapt to the newest model”

“How can you say there will always be lobbying?”

“Because there always has been.  Even in the Garden of Eden the snake got eve to take a bite of that apple.  That snake was the original lobbyist and ever since every lobbyist carries that snakes DNA.  The real question is who was the snake’s client?  Think about that the next time Jamie wants to tell you an Amish fable.  So after Ping cleans out the legislature and the executive branch he will get elected himself to some office and join your world of corruption as a participant, hell after that fundraiser he already has and he is pretty good at it so let him do his thing and be there to pick up the pieces with the new governor and the new legislature.  It has to happen every 30 years or so.  It purges the system.  Think of Ping as Ex-Lax and the RICO indictment as a colonoscopy.  Have you ever had a colonoscopy Leathers?”

“Sure when I turned 40, some chick stuck a hose up my ass and charged me a $20 copay, best deal in town for a little anal action”

“And what was the first thing you did after the procedure?”

“I had lunch, ate everything in sight I was so hungry and relieved”

“Same thing will happen after the RICO indictment the lobbying business will boom just with new players, let Ping do his thing and focus on having a say in the monitors appointment”

“But some judge will appoint the monitor”

“Exactly and you don’t think the judiciary is capable of being corrupted?  Be a lobbyist for fucks sake.  Now the marijuana dorm is a different problem, criminals and drugs are a different type of game entirely.  You can’t beat them at that game you will just get yourself killed if you try to lobby criminals instead use your skills in an arena you understand and they don’t”

“How so?”

“What does government always do to appease different groups without actually doing or achieving anything?”

“Appoint a commission or blue ribbon panel?”

“Bingo.  Get a study panel appointed to investigate and review drug dorms.  It should take six months to appoint a panel of well-respected experts, then Ping will convict the appointing members and they have to start over that should be a year at least then the panel will take 18 months to issue a report recommending more study meanwhile everyone gets put on hold.  The Italians are not happy but they won’t kill you since you didn’t spike there deal, Shimmel’s guys are happy because no drug dorms right now and who knows what happens in the next two years, it’s a model that has worked before and it will work again.  Remember you are a lobbyist Leathers live by the simple rule of taking credit for the work of others and avoid responsibility for anything that upsets anyone . . . and always get paid”

“You are a genius Denny”

“I know, gotta run Leathers I have a little league game to watch.  Those little league coaches and parents are the real political gangsters, cold hearted crazy motherfuckers, every one of them”