Thursday, May 28, 2015

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”


“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”


“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.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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.


“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”


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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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”

Thursday, May 21, 2015

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 Quark’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”


“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.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

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?”


“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.

Monday, May 18, 2015

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 which 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 electeds.  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 Bakuma, 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”


“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”


“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.

Friday, May 15, 2015

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 had said he “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 Mendez was 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”