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”