The meeting, as with the previous two, never took place, and the participants never had this discussion. Everyone present knew the rules. Any whiff of the subject of their gathering reaching the media would destroy them politically; possibly even send them to prison. But, the seven people in the isolated hunting lodge -- all white, all male, all WASP -- understood what must be done to accomplish their objective. They were not above breaking the law, or at least scraping along its uneven edges.
Every precaution had been taken. Each had a rock solid alibi for the evening should any question ever arise. The three with Secret Service or, as a result of the growing terrorist threats, the newly implemented Federal Marshal protection, had shaken their watchers for the night. Wives, executive assistants, even mistresses, were left in the dark. The absence of staff at the consultant’s southern Maryland retreat, given the day off to ensure complete privacy, left the men to fend for themselves -- laying the fire, arranging the table, and preparing dinner. Surprisingly, they did quite well, serving up steaks, baked potatoes and corn on the cob. The warmth from the burning logs and the Courvoisier, served in snifters heated on the hearth, felt good against the early March chill, as the men settled into their formal agenda around the lodge’s massive fieldstone fireplace.
Robert Haney, the Vice President of the United States, presided. Joining him were Attorney General James Bancroft, House Republican Majority Leader Antonin DuPrey, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Stuart Whistler, Morality, Inc. CEO Larry Lauer, Corporate Roundtable Executive Vice President Randy Sutton, and top GOP strategist and fundraiser and the evening’s host, C. Dory Clevenger. The topic was maintaining Republican control of the White House in the next year’s election.
The 2000 election had been a wake up. Gore would have been a disaster for big business, what with his tree-hugger agenda and his positions on worker and consumer rights. Thank God for the Republican hypocrites on the Supreme Court. Strict constructionists. Right! Strict constructionists would have sent the issue back to the Florida Supreme Court that has the Constitutional jurisdiction for elections.
Gore clearly was no Clinton, who was pragmatic to a fault, and just unethical enough that you could work with the man. But even given Clinton’s enthusiasm for their GOP benefactors’ pet projects -- NAFTA and the China trade deal -- corporations had taken some serious hits during his administration. After 20 years of the “see no evil, hear no evil” Reagan-Bush I and II presidencies, corporate honchos and their Washington lobbyists had a taste of the promised land. They were in no mood to put up with the regulatory and environmental demands of Democratic bleeding hearts.
With Bob Haney’s determination to not seek the nomination, theoretically, the field was wide open. Legally, the RNC must remain neutral in the run-up to the nominating convention; providing neither funds, support nor endorsement to any of the primary contenders. But, these seven men, representing the power and the money behind the current administration, were not about to let some grassroots populist botch their plans, as John McCain had nearly done in 2000. Moderates were already making noises about wrenching back the party apparatus from the corporate-neo-conservative-religious right axis that had seized control of it during the ‘80s. McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Colin Powell -- the darlings of the progressives. Over their seven dead bodies!
Ensuring that their man started out with a huge war chest would go a long way to scaring off possible challengers. If anyone was foolish enough to make a run, he would be squashed with a massive negative TV ad campaign, funneled through Lauer’s third-party Evangelical Christian front. And, these men knew just where and how to get their hands on that kind of cash.
The conversation picked up where it had left off at their last clandestine gathering -- siphoning $100 million from a secret RNC slush fund to benefit the candidate of their choice. Their deception was to remain “eyes only,” limited to the men in this room, since it was not only highly illegal, but also political dynamite. Each man knew his task. Whistler was to cook the RNC books with bogus contracts for consulting, demographic research, computer upgrades and such, paying for them out of the slush fund that only a handful of people knew existed.
Dor Clevenger and Sutton were to begin a legitimate fundraising drive, but quadrupling the results by using fake donors to cover the influx of cash transferred from the RNC. Lauer’s role was to identify influential right-wing Christian ministers and televangelists to garner early endorsements in return for anonymous “contributions” to their ministries. Twenty million dollars was allocated from the fund for “donor relations.” The term “bribery” was never to be used.
Haney’s and Bancroft’s jobs were to keep the President’s erratic behavior and severe mood swings, that could jeopardize their candidate’s chances in the general election, from becoming widely known for the next 20 months. Several independent psychiatrists had diagnosed the Chief Executive with depression, sadism and paranoid megalomania, and the White House physician had prescribed massive doses of powerful antidepressants. For years, it was the worst kept secret in Washington. Fortunately, the mainline media continued to consider the subject off limits, as it had with Ronald Reagan’s early Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
And, most important, House Majority Leader Antonin DuPrey -- ultraconservative, darling of the Evangelicals, good friend of big business, and their choice for president -- was to broaden his national exposure while attempting to soften his reputation for nastiness and partisan invective.
Little did the conspirators
realize that the path of deception they had started down was about to get
steeper, longer and more rutted than they could have possibly imagined.
Click Here to read Episode Two - Alfred University