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 $25000 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.”