Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Who just stepped in a huge stinking pile of ethics reform horseshit?

That list is as long and illustrious as my . . . (that will be enough of the top gun quotes for now) but lets focus on some easy ones that are particularly timely.

As I recently blogged Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters is an ethics lightweight but that didn't stop her from going balls deep into the latest pile of ethics horseshit.  Specifically her recent comments on the independence of the appointed members of the JJOKE review commission.  I don't have the time to do an in depth review of the independence of the members of that commission (and apparently they don't have the time, creativity or talent to do one of JJOKE either, but I will get to that in a moment) but I am a curious and cynical type so I took a quick look at one commissioner, Patricia Salkin.  Independence is a funny thing and somewhat subjective but those that believe they are independent enough to review the work of a state ethics agency should at least consider the appearance of their independence.  On that point I think Ms. Salkin is blind to her own appearance and I am positive Ms. Bartoletti did not do even the most basic analysis before anointing Ms. Salkin as independent.  Consider the following facts I gleaned from a quick review of Ms. Salkins connections.  And keep in mind I have not verified what Ms. Salkin or her husband Howard Gross have said in published reports about themselves.  Mr. Gross has a business that in the past has been enriched by a number of contracts it has with the State of New York and has similarly suffered serious business reversals when those contract were cancelled but then made an impressive financial recovery when it landed more State contracts.  According to the Albany Business Review when it comes to Mr. Gross's business and state contracts

 ". . . there’s no ignoring that the state contract work speaks volumes, as the jobs from the two agencies represent the lion’s share of E-BizDocs' revenue. Earlier this year, before E-BizDocs secured the contracts, the records-management company operated with a staff of 22.
The newest contract involves scanning 80,000 boxes of paper documents to electronic format for the New York State Dormitory Authority.
Gross calls the project “a long-term initiative with no end in sight.” The work should generate $400,000 this year and keep 7-9 people employed for its duration.
“This is a huge opportunity for us,” Gross says."
Huge opportunities for your spouse have a funny way of effecting ones independence, don't you agree Ms. Bartoletti?
And it's not just Ms. Salkin's husband that benefits from state contracts Ms. Salkin herself has received consulting contracts from the State of New York in the past.  According to her bio on the Touro Law School website she has performed  "consulting work for various
state agencies in New York"
Now I don't know if she still does consulting work for New York State or plans to in the future but I think it's an important fact to know when it comes to judging her independence on the JJOKE review commission don't you Ms. Bartoletti?
On that same website bio I found the following "Dean Salkin has served on the transition teams for
attorneys general-elect Eric Schneiderman, Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer"
At a minimum any connection to Spitzer, the whore fucker, by someone reviewing the work of New York's ethics agencies is troubling.  But maybe the JJOKE review commission can take another look at how the airplane trip on a state plane to go fuck the whore was handled by our ethics agencies.  I wrote about it on my blog.  In case you haven't read it here it is again Ms. Bartoletti 
Seeing how Ms. Salkin served on the governors transition team for Attorney General  goes a long way to explaining why she is on this review commission wouldn't you agree Ms. Bartoletti?  How it explains her independence I'm at a loss to understand.
Ms. Salkin's service on Mr. Schneiderman's transition team is far more troubling in the context of her review of JJOKE.  In case either Ms. Bartoletti or Ms. Salkin were unaware several ethics complaints were filed against Mr. Schneiderman by my clients Donald Trump and Hank Greenberg.  How those complaints were handled could serve as a very useful case study as to JJOKE's effectiveness.  But to do that we need to know what it was that JJOKE did with them.  In the Trump complaint Mr. Trump had to sue JJOKE to force a vote on the complaint.  JJOKE lost that suit and then voted not to pursue the complaint.  A review of what led to those actions would certainly shed light on JJOKE's dark inner workings.  Will Ms. Salkin demand access to those records as part of her independent review of JJOKE?  Will she ask Schneiderman for his records related to the complaint and JJOKE investigation?  What do you think Ms. Bartoletti?  When it comes to the Greenberg complaint JJOKE actions get even more curious and beg for an independent review.  Although presented with voluminous records of  clear violations by members of Mr. Schneiderman's office JJOKE fashioned a no fine settlement that rewrote the rules on the provision of gifts to state officials.  I'd heard rumors of JJOKE commissioners being influenced by Schneiderman's minions but without access to the secret JJOKE investigation files and minutes we will never know. Will Ms. Salkin demand access to those records as part of her independent review of JJOKE?  Will she ask Schneiderman for his records related to the complaint and JJOKE investigation?  What do you think Ms. Bartoletti?
Speaking of Ms. Salkin I still have not heard back from her on the timing for my public appearance before her independent review commission.  Nor has she replied to my request for copies of JJOKE records that would make that request and analysis meaningful.  She did tell the Times Union that her commission has not requested records from JJOKE . . . yet.  Lets see if they ever do.  The Times Unions top spellchecking reporter Casey Sielor did post that the date and time for the Albany hearing has been posted on the commissions website and that it conflicts with JJOKE's next meeting also in Albany.  Now maybe I am being too critical of this accomplished group of independent lawyers but what the fuck were they thinking?  Salkin has asked for my suggestions as they go thru the review process so I sent her the following email today.
I haven't heard back from you as to my appearance in front of your commission nor have I received a reply to my request for any information you may have gathered from JJOKE but I did read in the Times Union that you have not asked for any of the relevant information.  I suggest you do so in a timely fashion to take advantage of the opportunity that has been afforded you by your appointment.  Additionally I read that your public hearing will be held in Albany at Albany Law School and will conflict with the next JJOKE meeting.  At the risk of being arrogant let me suggest that both the time and location of your hearing are poorly chosen and ethically tone deaf.  I am positive few if any of your commissioners have actually attended a meeting of JJOKE in person.  Don't you think they should?  The date of October 7th provides the perfect opportunity to attend the JJOKE meeting and then hold the hearing at JJOKE with all JJOKE commissioners (at least those that bother to attend in person) available to testify.  Their public input, I'm sure you would agree is invaluable to your review.  Lastly holding the public hearing at JJOKE would allow both those interested in ethics and those in the media to attend both the JJOKE meeting and your hearing, as opposed to having to choose between these two very worthwhile educational opportunities and would have the added benefit of avoiding Albany Law School, the client of a registered lobbyist and therefor subject to the strictures of the Lobby Act, possibly providing what could be seen at worst as an illegal gift or a reportable business relationship to your state commission and at best the appearance of impropriety, by giving you free space, unless of course the state is paying for the rental of that space, in which case I must ask why you are wasting taxpayer funds to rent when the state can provide any number of state locations, including JJOKE for free.  I shall await your response and look forward to providing additional suggestions as your hearings draw near.
You would think all these accomplished independent appointees could manage not to step in the huge stinking piles of ethics reform horseshit that litter Albany . . . just once. PLEASE.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chapter 33

Pat had a call for me on hold.  “Leathers a Mr. Ping Bo Xian is on the phone”

I had been waiting for Ping Pong to call about Dante, this would be a delicate matter I had to be firm without pissing off the US Attorney.  “Is it Ping or one of his assistants?”

“It’s Mr. Bo Xian and don’t be an asshole Leathers I’m not going to visit you in some federal prison”

“Put him through Pat and if they were going to arrest me they wouldn’t call first they would visit my home at 7am”

“Mort Leatherbaum may I help you?”

“I certainly hope so Mr. Leatherbaum, it’s Ping Bo Xian I am the US Attorney for the Southern District and I’d like to take a moment of your time to speak with you”

“Please call me Leathers and I am happy to speak with you should we meet in person?”

“In person would be fine and call me Mr. Bo Xian the only people that call me Ping are my friends and family and the only people that call me Ping Pong are those in prison or soon to be in prison”

“Certainly Mr. Bo Xian when would be convenient?”

There was a loud knock on the door as it opened and a diminutive man dressed in an elegant suit walked in.

“How about right now Leathers?”

I looked behind Ping to see if he had brought any members of the FBI or investigators from his office, seeing none I relaxed assuming I was not about to be placed in custody.

“Now is fine Mr. Bo Xian, do I need to call my lawyer?”

“If you needed a lawyer you would have known that by now, Karp would have tipped you off I’m sure, those fucking FBI agents haven’t learned a thing since the Whitey Bulger fiasco, no I want to talk to you about your client Dante Dorr”


“Please Leathers don’t play stupid I’m not here to talk to you about Dante’s criminal liability which you know as well as I do is nonexistent.  I’m here to talk to you about his immense political talent, which quite frankly I am in awe of and which I assume you are responsible for since Dante is clinically insane.”

“I’m not sure I understand Mr. Bo Xian, what it is you want to talk about if not Dante’s criminal liability?”

“I want to retain you Leathers as my political consultant and chief strategist.  I have not given up on my dream of becoming the first Asian President and right now the best way to do that is to hitch my wagon to Dante’s shooting star.  And the best person to make that happen is you.”

“But Dante hasn’t decided which office he wants to run for, I think he just likes the idea of running”

“That’s where you come in Leathers.  Convince him to run for President with me as his Vice President.  Think of it as the Ying and Yang ticket”

“And I work for you?”

“You could but I think you would make far more money working for the campaign.  As chief strategist for Dante/Ping 2016 you could name your price.  We will raise a fortune in campaign contributions”

I started to feel my creative juices flowing.  “So Dante taps into the I’m innocent crowd and you tap into the big money pay to play donors with the implied threat that a failure to donate results in a criminal indictment of their industry and the ire of Dane’s populist interest groups”

“Exactly Leathers Dante keeps saying I’m innocent so you can go fuck yourself and I keep saying everyone but Dante is guilty so donate or go to jail”

“It has promise and appeal . . . Ping.  I can see it already they will teach it in political science classes for the next 50 years.  We can call it the Ping Pong strategy”

I saw Ping processing that bit of information.  He was alternating between anger and excitement.  Finally he smiled.

“Let’s see if we can’t come up with a catchier title for our strategy.  In the meantime go get Dante onboard for the biggest political press conference, rally, media event and/or perp work in the history of politics”

“I’ll call Dante right now, do you think your family can manufacture those micro condoms with a slogan on the side?”

“That all depends on how big the slogan is Leathers but I’m sure we can think of something and sell a shitload of them”

I stood up and shook Pings hand, it was a really small effeminate hand.

“One last thing Leathers, don’t fuck with me, I’ll make Andy Karp look like the tooth fairy if you cross me”

Ping left the office closing the door behind him.  I sat down and pressed the button to turn off my recording equipment.  Tooth fairy my ass.

If I learned nothing else in my time in politics it was to live by the famous words of former pro football star and bodyguard to the stars Rosy Grier who reportedly said “I’m nonviolent but if it doesn’t hurt the drape of your jacket drop a .38 in your pocket, better safe than sorry”.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Barbara Bartoletti is an ethics lightweight

Chris Bragg had a meaningful piece in the Sunday Times Union. You can read it here if you don't want to pay for the TU premium content:  I should note that Chris would never have written the story if he didn't read my blog.  I guess original reporting ideas are rarer than Barbara Bartoletti's hard hitting analysis of ethics in NY.

On that point Chris does us a huge favor by getting Ms. Bartoletti to comment on the record about the JJOKE review panel (as an aside I wonder who suggested he call the goo goos for comment?).  Salkin and her review panel made the basic mistake of soliciting comment from the good government groups at the beginning of their review.  Assuming as most amateurs in ethics would that the goo goos actually have thought about what a review of JJOKE would entail.  But true to form the goo goos miss the forest, the trees and the stinking piles of ethics reform bullshit in the forest.  After her stunning failure as part of the Moreland Commission here is what Barbara said to Mr. Bragg when it came to Salkin's review panel.

"Bartoletti said she was impressed by the academic credentials of the eight volunteer commissioners, and believed they would be independent.
The topic of whether the review panel was requesting documents from JCOPE did not come up at the meeting.
"Considering most of the people on the panel are very accomplished lawyers, I can only assume they thought about it and decided legally they can't do it," Bartoletti said."

Just a couple of thoughts here about Barbara's thought process.

Stop being impressed by academic credentials.  How many times have we heard assholes tell us how great the academic credentials were of all those involved with ethics in NY?  Enough already it's like the Miss America pagent for ethics, all the contestants are smoking hot and have the combined ethics IQ of . . . a doorknob.

Stop believing they will be independent.  If the history of NY ethics has taught us nothing else it's that they will not be independent.  How independent was the Moreland Commission you served on Barbara?  Someone in government appointed them they are not independent.  In fact just ask Salkin who appointed her and why.

And stop providing cover for these impressive independent members of the review panel.  Barbara is already making excuses for the very accomplished lawyers on the review panel for not at least trying to acquire the material they need to do the most basic review.  "I can only assume they thought about it and decided legally they can't do it"  What a genius you are Barbara, assuming Salkin's review panel thought about asking for relevant material and deciding that legally they can't do it.  Bragg points out in his story that legally they can do it and even explains how they can do it  (I admit I helped Chris understand this legal issue, but I lack impressive academic credentials, I am not an accomplished lawyer and I am certainly not a goo goo).  Here is what Salkin should have done and still can do.  Request the material I listed.  Then publicly request that JJOKE vote to release that material.  If they vote yes, great do your review and release the information publicly.  If they vote no or do not vote at all, make a public statement that they are preventing the review panel from doing it's work and recommend that JJOKE be abolished and lets try again to create a meaningful ethics agency.

By the way the fact that Salkin admits to not even asking for the material tells me all I need to know about her review panels accomplishments, independence and credentials.

And about Salkin's statement of interviewing commissioners I'm going to call bullshit.  I know and speak with quite a few who haven't heard from her or her panel. 

But here is a thought for the accomplished, impressive and independent review panel why don't you publicly release which present and/or former commissioners and staff you have interviewed.  Then Barbara and the rest of the ethics crowd can stop assuming and start advocating.

Remember Barbara the old saying that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

That didn't take long

To those that think my blog is only read by my immediate family consider this.  Five days ago I wrote the following at the conclusion of yet another diatribe about how bad ethics enforcement is in Albany:

"By the way given what I know and what I've done for the last 20 years can someone explain to me why that review board looking at JJOKE hasn't reached out for my thoughts?  I know Patty Salkin, I'm not a fan but I know her, you would think she would want my input if for no other reason than to learn the real problems with huge stinking piles of ethics reform bullshit before she stepped in one."

This morning I received the following email:

To: ""

Cc: "Crowell, Anthony" , "Dvorkin, Ariel"

Subject: Request to meet with the JCOPE Review Commission

Date: Sep 15, 2015 8:36 AM

Attachments: JCOPE Commission.pdf

Good morning David,

I hope all is well with you. It has been a long time!
As you may know I am a member of the JCOPE Review Commission. Our statutory mandate is to review the work of JCOPE and to report on whether they are meeting their mandate and offer any suggestions to help in this endeavor. I am attaching the precise language of the statute for your information. As part of our outreach efforts we are scheduling a series of meetings in Albany on Monday, Sept, 28th, and we are finalizing details on a public hearing in Albany for Wednesday, October 7th. It would be terrific if you would be available for either of these dates. If they do not work for you, please let me know and we can try to find another time. I look forward to hearing from you. Patty
Patricia E. Salkin Dean and Professor of Law Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center 225 Eastview Drive Central Islip, New York 11722 Phone: 631-761-7100 Fax: 631-761-7109
I haven't stopped laughing long enough to respond but I will save this entry and do so at this time.  Then I shall return and post my response.  After which we can discuss it.
Here's my response:
Patty it has been a long time, I think the last time we spoke I was still in charge of the Temporary Commission on Lobbying.  In case you were not aware then Governor Spitzer, then Senate Majority Leader Bruno and then Speaker Silver abolished that Commission to form the Public Integrity Commission.  Following scandals too numerous to list then Governor Pattison, then Senate Majority Leader Skelos and then Speaker Silver replaced that failed ethics agency with the current Joint Commission on Public Ethics , known as JCOPE or JJOKE. As an aside the then governors and/or legislative leaders responsible for the Lobby Commission's demise and JJOKE's birth have all faced significant ethical and criminal violations, trials and indictments of their own.  Some, myself included would call that ethics karma others just business as usual in Albany.  I welcome your invitation, as I'm sure you are aware I urged you to do so publicly five days ago.  Your review commission has been in existence for over three months and your report will be due approximately one month from when you wish to speak with me so I am sure you have collected voluminous information from the usual cast of characters that surround "ethics reform" in Albany, yet none of them would be in a position to comment meaningfully on JJOKE's "activities and performance" without the relevant information regarding that activity.  Do you have available a list of investigations opened by JJOKE? Or copies of investigation files for those cases that have been concluded? How about copies of the minutes of all executive sessions engaged in by JJOKE? Transcripts of interviews of past and present JJOKE commissioners and staff? If you have these items I would be happy to review them prior to my appearance before your review commission so as to provide meaningful input on JJOKE's "activities and performance".  If you do not have the items set forth above or will not share them with the public I would still be happy to appear at the public hearing, if for no other reason than to point out the futility of holding a hearing regarding the performance of JJOKE without knowing what JJOKE has or has not done.  One need only think about how well the Moreland Commission's activities and performance has been received by the public to understand the point I am making.
So count me in for October 7th and forward any information you can share before that date so I might provide cogent analysis.
Lets see what happens next.


That didn't take long.  Here is the latest Salkin email and my response

-----Original Message-----
>From: Patricia Salkin <>
>Sent: Sep 15, 2015 9:54 AM
>To: "<>" <>
>Cc: "" <>, "Crowell,Anthony" <>, "Dvorkin,Ariel" <>
>Subject: Re: Request to meet with the JCOPE Review Commission
>Thanks David.  Actually I am not aware of what you said 5 days ago...what was the outlet so I can find it? 
>We are collecting information and meeting with as many interested individuals and groups as possible. Your views on what the Commission should review and your ideas about what is or is not working would be great.  

I said it on my blog which can be found at  Many people interested in the topic of JJOKE read it regularly and you will find numerous postings that analyze and discuss what is or is not working at JJOKE along with the general state of ethics enforcement in New York over the last 5 or 6 years.  You already have my views on what your commission should review from my previous email.  I would suggest that if you haven't requested or reviewed those items nothing else you do will have any value or worth, if you have reviewed them please provide me copies so that I might provide you my ideas about what is or is not working, as you requested.
I look forward to appearing at your hearing on the 7th.  How much time will I be allotted?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

National search for the next Sugarman

For those of you expecting the next chapter in the Leathers novel you will have to wait a day or two, a couple of things have tweaked my outrage and they just don't fit into the novel at this point so I'll just blog about them to relieve my outrage and allow me to get on with my work with a clear head.

Let's start with the settlement of the LLC loophole case brought by Risa Sugarman and then we can talk about JJOKE's mythical national search for Kevin Gagan.

Sugarman got a settlement and a $10000 fine from the CAMPAIGN account of some losing candidate whose name doesn't matter because no one cared.  This settlement, if you believe the experts quoted in the Times Union, is suppose to act as a deterrent against the use of LLCs to raise money in campaigns, an evil thing as every reform group, goo goo and editorial will tell you.  Risa must have believed the LLC loophole (by the way what is the definition of a loophole?) was an evil thing to have brought the suit but quite frankly who gives a shit what Risa thinks.  The Board of Elections where she works hasn't changed the rules that allow LLC donations and the Legislature hasn't changed the laws to prohibit it.  Hell even the Governor whom Risa really works for hasn't stopped raising money from LLCs NOR SHOULD HE it's legal.  Now the fact that Risa, without any appointing authorities approval brought a law suit against some nobody may at least have had the dubious benefit of forcing a legal decision on LLC donations but she didn't see it thru to a judicial conclusion.  Instead I bet she got a call from the second floor and settled this case ASAP.  And here is the true hypocracy of Risa Sugarman's pursuit to close the LLC loophole.  The fine she insisted on to settle the case came from the campaign account, which used . . . wait for it . . . the LLC donated money.  Risa never made the campaign return the tainted LLC money to the evil LLC  NOOOOOOO she took that blood money herself.  It seems to me if the LLC money is good enough for Risa it's good enough for any candidate that wants it.  And for Blair Horner or Susan Lerner or the Times Union editorial staff to say it is  a step in the right direction, it's not it's just a huge stinking load of Albany reform bullshit.

Speaking of Albany reform bullshit, it has been over a month since LT resigned and JJOKE announced it would undertake a national search for her replacement.  Has anyone seen or heard of this search actually being undertaken?  I only ask because I would like to apply for the job but haven't seen nor heard of it being posted anywhere not even on the JJOKE website.  I only wish to apply because I am certain that Kevin Gagan will get the job so my application would provide me much amusement with no risk of actually having to come back and straighten out this huge stinking pile of ethics reform bullshit.  Hey Kevin have LT set up a date for coffee and I'll save you a couple of years of agony.  Does anyone, even my many detractors (don't hate the playa hate the game) really believe I don't possess the very qualifications the JJOKE commissioners announced they where looking for? Knowledge of ethics enforcement, years of experience and totally independent from the appointing authorities.  Hell the first thing I would do is investigate JJOKE and it's commissioners.  HMMMM that alone may be worth the price of admission.

By the way given what I know and what I've done for the last 20 years can someone explain to me why that review board looking at JJOKE hasn't reached out for my thoughts?  I know Patty Salkin, I'm not a fan but I know her, you would think she would want my input if for no other reason than to learn the real problems with huge stinking piles of ethics reform bullshit before she stepped in one.

So that JJOKE can not be mistaken I hereby apply for the vacant position of Executive Director.  Do I at least get an interview?  I'll open my interview to the media it should make for an interesting pile of ethics reform bullshit. 

I still got my shovel.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Chapter 32

I hadn’t seen Dan Kerr since his celebratory lunch at the Grove with Alex Shimmel.  I assumed the merger had gone smoothly as Dan wasn’t calling anymore sniffing for a job and Pat wasn’t stealing my slush fund cash and asking me to deliver it to Dan for her. 

This time I had asked Dan to meet me for coffee as I had a project that his unique expertise would be helpful on.  Senator Squabble had finally gotten around to making a serious play for the majority leader’s job.  The race was down to Squabble and Senator Seamus O’Malley.  Squabble the pseudo democrat Brooklyn hipster douchebag had all the downstate democrats and enough moderate republicans from New York City to be just two votes short of a majority.  O’Malley the republican from Long Island could count on the entire Long Island contingent in the senate plus the upstate republicans and just enough greedy turncoat conservative democrats, also known as the Hasidic conference to also be just two votes shy of a majority.  There were only three votes left unaccounted for.  All three were woman.

Senator Donna Black was a democrat turned republican from Rochester.  She had been an exotic dancer until she was elected to a town board seat in Henrietta.  She rode that office and every RIT student she could service on her way to winning a senate seat several years ago.  While her senate career was uneventful and practically unnoticed she had managed to travel extensively with O’Malley on numerous fact finding trips around the state and the rumor was she was sleeping with O’Malley.  This fact would normally put her squarely in O’Malley’s column but she was a politician and a former stripper so her loyalty could never be taken for granted.

Senator Carla Roselinni was from the Brooklyn district adjacent to Squabble’s.  She was a staunch liberal democrat and had worked as a labor organizer prior to being elected a senator five years ago.  She had zero accomplishments and had voted in lockstep with Senator Vito Luigi, whom she was living with.  Luigi was in Squabble’s camp which would normally put her in Squabble’s column but the rumor was that Squabble had bedded her teenage daughter from her second marriage at the same time that Roselinni had been dating Squabble’s Uncle, “Big Johnny” Klein, who was a well-known fixture in Brooklyn political circles.  All in all a likely Squabble vote but one with baggage.

That left Manhattan democrat Beth Croaker.  Perhaps the most liberal Senator in the Senate.  Croaker liked nothing better than to be on television pontificating on some hopeless liberal cause or another.  This was a common trait of the limousine liberals from Manhattan but Croaker was different.  She bore a striking resemblance to Jabba the Hut, had a voice that sounded like the lower east side trying to imitate the upper west side and insisted on wearing yoga pants that were so tight you could swear you could see a toll booth between her massive thighs.  The only thing Beth Croaker wanted in return for her support was for any male to actually journey where no man had gone before. 

And that was where Dan came in.

I couldn’t take Dan to Eggy’s nor would I want to.  Under Carps ownership the food had improved, the prices had risen and it was now drawing it’s clientele from Albany’s hip hop community.   Instead I met Dan at the lunch trucks in front of the capital.  Several of the trucks set up early and served breakfast sandwiches ranging in quality from great to horrible.  I thought the best sandwich and coffee could be found at the “Lonely Kike”, a kosher truck run by a former Italian pot dealer, Mark Dago. 

Dan was waiting coffee in hand when I arrived.

“Hey Mark I’ll take a bacon egg and cheese and a large coffee”

“You got it Leathers, can I ask a favor?”

“That depends on the favor”

“You know I did my time on that drug rap and I’m clean since the day I went to prison but what do I need to do to hook up with one of those medical marijuana outfits?  I still know how to move product”

“If I was you I’d keep the “Kike” running that marijuana business is not for amateurs”

“I’m no amateur Leathers, remember I had 600 pounds wrapped in Christmas paper when my van flipped over and those Colonie cops arrested me”

“If you’re serious Mark I’ll make a call see if my client could use a delivery guy”

“You are the best Leathers, here’s your sandwich and coffee”

“One question I always had Mark, the “Kike” is supposed to be a kosher truck how do you serve bacon?”

“Are you kidding Leathers my business comes from government workers all they want to do is believe it’s kosher, most have no idea what it really means, and the Jews that eat here love bacon and to anyone that complains I just say I’m innocent I support Israel and you can go fuck yourself”

I walked away with Dan just shaking my head and sat down on one of the benches.

“So Dan how are things in your new firm?”

Dan thought for a moment and then responded “I guess it’s good, I get my check every week but I don’t do anything anymore”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean I get paid but Alex is never around and no one is allowed to lobby on anything without his approval and input”

“What about Dolan, what does he say?”

“I haven’t seen Dolan since the closing, he took his check and drove off, and no one has seen him, even at his golf clubs.  We all just sit around the office waiting for a call from Alex which never comes”

“And your clients put up with no action on their needs?”

“What clients?  Alex took over all the accounts and whatever he did no client is complaining, it’s weird everyone seems happy and yet nothing is happening.  My big assignment from Alex is to come up with a name for the firm that has the initials C. I. and A.”

“Well I’ll tell you what you help me with my issue and I’ll give you a name to use”

“Ok what’s your problem Leathers?”

“It involves your specialty Dan, sex”

Danny brightened up “Tell me Leathers”

“How do we get Beth Croaker laid?”

“The real question is why would you want that to happen?”

“Because she holds the key to who becomes the next Senate majority leader, and while you may be retired I still need to be relevant in this town so I’d like to play a role in that decision”

“Well that’s a tough one”

“Because she is a twin sister to Jerry Nadler and her camel toe looks like a pair of elephant ears in those yoga pants?”

“Fuck no, you really don’t understand pussy do you Leathers, getting Beth laid is easy the problem is getting the right guy for the job, if either Squabble or O’Malley bump uglies with her they will lose.  Squabble does it and Roselinni finds out she will vote O’Malley, O’Malley takes the plunge and Black flips to Squabble.  What you need is a non- senator to go shampoo that shag carpeting.”

“How does that help?  Then the Senate leaders’ race ends in a tie”

“All this work you are doing for Dante is causing you to slip Leathers a tie is exactly what you want, tell both Squabble and O’Malley you will work next election cycle as a campaign consultant to get enough Senators reelected and/or new Senators elected to make them majority leader.  I’m telling you between campaign consulting and this new social media advocacy stuff lobbyists like us are a dying breed.”

“You really believe that Dan?”

“Absolutely Leathers guys like us are yellow cabs and UBER is running us over, by the way switching topics what office is Dante going to run for”

“To tell you the truth Danny he is polling in the high 80’s for every office we list in the polls from Guilderland school board to governor, he just has to decide”

“See Leathers you are already a campaign consultant the lobbying industry is on its way out, speaking of which did you hear JJOKE is going around forcing lobbyists to sign nondisclosure agreements about their financial condition and actually directing firms to merge?”

“Government can’t take an active role in the private sector and demand secrecy that violates the constitution and it’s illegal”

“Sure it is Leathers but didn’t that already happen during the banking crisis in ’08?  Go ask your big Wall Street clients if government can’t do what it wants.  I’m telling you Leathers our best days are in our rearview mirror”

“Chilling In Aruba, that’s your new firms name Dan, or a recipe for our sanity”

I walked away from the Capital feeling older than I ever had before.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chapter 31

Chapter 31

It had been a week since Dante had retained me to represent him.  If I hadn’t had a front row seat to the media circus I wouldn’t have believed it.  Dante was in his element, on one hand providing background material to any media outlet that asked and plenty that didn’t proving his guilt beyond any doubt and on the other hand very publicly claiming to be a scapegoat for overzealous prosecutors and the media desperate to rush to judgement.  I had very little to do other than the occasional public statement that my client was innocent and looked forward to an opportunity to clear his good name.  I had given Dante his slogan which he repeated constantly in every public appearance.  “I’m innocent so go fuck yourself”.  I thought it had sort of a don’t tread on me quality.  The media loved it but was struggling with how to report it.  I had seen everything from “go f*** yourself” to “go fornicate yourself” to “go hump yourself” to my favorite in the Albany Times Union “go engage in sexual activity with yourself”.  Only the New York Post had dared use the actual phrase in 10 point type no less which of course meant the New York Times had to report on the use of the work fuck on the front page of its competitor resulting in an entire news cycle devoted to the word fuck.

Of course Dante had trademarked the phrase and it was now appearing on t-shirts, bumper stickers and cell phone cases, all of which paid royalties to Dante and for which I skimmed my 30%.

I was walking over to the capital where Dante had scheduled yet another new conference.  As I got closer I noticed more and more people with “I’m innocent so go fuck yourself” signs and t-shirts and assorted other paraphernalia.  As I entered the park in front of the capital on my way to join Dante I saw sitting side by side a wild haired bearded 300lb biker type holding a beer can in an insulated sleeve that said “I’m innocent so you and the safe act can go fuck yourself” and a 30 something woman in a sundress made of hemp with the slogan “I’m innocent and pro-choice so you can go fuck yourself”.  Directly in front of the podium, wedged into a throng of reporters and cameramen sat a 6 year old girl in pigtails and a lunchbox with Cinderella’s picture and the phrase “I’m innocent and the common core sucks so you can go fuck yourself”.  It started to dawn on me that not only was Dante starting to tap into a feeling of anger in the populace but his commercialization of advocacy themes was both profitable and effective.  Was this the start of the social media advocacy Jamie had predicted?  Being technology challenged I had no way of knowing at the time that the entire press conference had been turned into a massive rally for every advocacy group in New York thru twitter and Facebook and snapchat and Instagram and god knows what else.  “I’m innocent so go fuck yourself” had turned into a rallying cry for a disenfranchised public.

As I joined Dante at the podium he leaned over and whispered “Buckle your seatbelt Leathers we are about to catch a ride on a shooting star”.

What was this crazy bastard going to do now?

Dante tapped on the mic and the crowd quieted down.

“To quote Darwin “If nothing changes, nothing changes””

The crowd exploded in applause and I started seeing dollar signs from a whole new line of merchandising.  I was pretty sure Darwin never said “If nothing changes nothing changes” but at this point who cared.

Dante quieted the crowd and continued “I am innocent so you can go fuck yourself”.  The crowd went wild as if the Rolling Stones were onstage and were strumming the opening chords to “Star fucker”.

Just when I thought it could not get any crazier he wrapped up with “You want God to laugh make a plan, I’ll now take questions”.

Ted Fricker from the New York Post jumped up “Our anonymous sources have confirmed that you broke at least ten different federal and state statutes as a result of your fundraising activity would you care to comment?”

Dante calmly answered “Ted what I may or may not have done in raising badly needed funding for our deeply flawed candidates is not the issue, I would not change a thing in the way I raised money from this states beleaguered industries what is important is I’m innocent so you can go fuck yourself, and it’s time to change because if nothing changes nothing changes”

The crowd rose to its feet and a grandmother standing next to Fricker with an umbrella that was printed with the slogan “I’m innocent and care about my grandchildren’s future so you can go fuck yourself” literally shoved the umbrella up Fricker’s ass while shouting “I bet God is laughing now”

Fricker stumbled away and was quickly replaced by Lenny Hater of the Daily News “Is it true Dante that the US Attorney Ping Pong has not questioned you yet?

Dante paused and then responded “It has been widely reported that I am under investigation by the US Attorney however he has not had the courtesy or the balls to question me about those allegations, and that is for a very simple reason I’m innocent so you can go fuck yourself, and it’s time to change because if nothing changes nothing changes”

Hater persisted “Do you think Ping has avoided you because you raised money for him?”

“Dante became agitated “You need to ask the US Attorney why he would leak that he is investigating me but not follow up on that investigation.  I would welcome publicly discussing my fundraising efforts on his behalf because I’m innocent so you can go fuck yourself, and it’s time to change because if nothing changes nothing changes”

Casey Sailer sashayed to the mic “Mr. Dorr in case you were not aware to be grammatically correct you should be saying “I am innocent therefore you may proceed to . . .”

Before he could finish the 6 year old with the Cinderella lunchbox gave Casey a swift kick to the groin and stated “Fuck you and your grammar asshole”

The crowd went insane chanting Dante Dante Dante.

I saw a strange look come over Dante’s face as he addressed the crowd.

Your support has been overwhelming I feel you have left me no choice at this time but to announce that I will be running for office on a platform of I’m innocent so you can go fuck yourself, and it’s time to change because if nothing changes nothing changes.  I look forward to my campaign, keep those cash contributions coming”

As I tried to sneak out of the press conference/rally/revival meeting all I could think of was the one thing Dante had said that actually rang true people made plans and God just laughs.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chapter 30

Chapter 30

Pat stuck her head in my office “You have a new client that wants to see you”

I was still considering Jamie’s asshole observation so I tried to be polite “Who is it, what’s their problem and how much money do they have?”

Pat responded “It’s Dante Dorr, he says he wants you to provide crisis management for his upcoming federal indictment and he has no money left”

“And why do I want to get involved in Dante’s latest shitstorm if he can’t pay me?”

“Leather for once don’t be an asshole, Dante needs your help”

This whole asshole thing was having real ramifications “send him in”

“Dante, what trouble are you causing today?”

“There is going to be a story in all the papers tomorrow that I am the target of Ping’s latest investigation”

“What did you do to get Ping interested in you?”

“This is attorney client privileged right?”

“Sure Dante if that makes you less nervous, sit down and tell me what’s going on”

“The stories are all going to say that I acted as a bagman for numerous politicians in delivering cash campaign donations thru various LLCs that my clients controlled including to Ping’s campaign”

“So what’s the big deal LLC’s can make contributions, and bundling is an accepted practice in this town.  By the way you said the stories will say . . . are the stories true?”

“Well that’s why I’m here Leathers, none of it is really true but . . .”

“But what Dante” I was starting to get a feeling this wasn’t a run of the mill Albany corruption scandal.

“But I told all the papers it was true”

“And you did that because . . .?”

Dante stood up clearly agitated “Because everyone else is in the papers being investigated for one scandal or another and no one is writing about me”

“So you made yourself a target to get publicity?”

“Yes do you know how hard it is to survive in this town when no one knows who you are? When no one is talking about you?”

“Dante do you realize how crazy that sounds?  You want to be in the media for something positive not something bad like being the target of a federal corruption probe”

“Don’t be an asshole Leathers, first there is no such thing as bad publicity and second in this town I’ll be a superstar, I can do interviews and really put my face out there, it is going to be a lot of fun”

I could swear Dante was getting wood thinking about all the media attention he would garner.  “If I can’t dissuade you Dante what can I do to help?”

“Two things, first I want you to publicly state that you are representing me and second I want you to figure out a way I can do this without ever having to talk to Ping’s investigators.”

I thought about it for a second and responded “You don’t want to talk to the feds because you haven’t done anything but you don’t want to admit that and you don’t want to lie to the feds either, am I right?”


“You know I don’t do criminal law Dante and so does everyone else in this town so my representing you will look odd”

“No Leathers it will make perfect sense, I picked you because no matter what the media says, and I will make sure they keep saying I’m under investigation, I will keep saying I am innocent and you are the best person to explain how unfair the system is in Albany that everyone is being tarred by the same corruption innuendo and even innocent men such as myself are subjected to the media spotlight without fact or circumstance being proven”

“Dante you are clinically insane, you are going to destroy your reputation to garner headlines, you are going to invite a federal investigation into your innocent activity but you will have to refuse to prove your innocence and you are looking forward to this?”

“You bet”

“ Okay Dante here is what you do,  have fun outing yourself with the media, make sure they know when Ping’s people come knocking on your door at 7 am and then publicly but politely tell Ping’s investigators to go fuck themselves, and to call me.  I’ll take it from there you poor sick twisted motherfucker”

“Don’t be an asshole Leathers you think I’m the only person in this town that would do this to get in the papers?”

“No I don’t Dante that’s why I’m going to help you, for free by the way, I think it could be a growth industry.  I do want 30% of any revenue you generate though either thru book deals or interviews, Deal?”

“30%? That’s a little rich but beggars can’t be choosers so I agree”

Just when you think this town can’t get any more fucked up the Dante’s of the world raise the ante.

But as my mentor Cadillac Curtis used to say “if you want to play the game you have to pay the ante, or at least promise to pay it”.