A.B. Chambers sat behind his desk. Heck Ross had been right about Toffer French. Now he, A.B., wished he’d listened. Toffer had embroiled Des Moines and the whole of Iowa in a scandal that the state might not be able to distance itself from.
He remembered Heck telling him that Toffer had approached him and offered to back his bid as mayor, but Heck had turned him down on principle. It wasn’t that Heck hadn’t needed the extra boost. No, he could’ve used the help. But the French family had a bad name.
It wasn’t a name that anyone wanted connected to their campaign. Least of all, Heck. And Heck had advised A.B. to steer clear of the man as well.
“The cleaner you run,” Heck had said, “the better off you’ll be. Toffer French and his ilk are bad news. Crooked. Vile. Not people you want to be beholden to.”
And A.B. took the advice to heart. Toffer had approached him as well, offering to back him. When he turned the toad-like man down, Toffer threatened him.
“I will see that you never get elected,” Toffer had croaked, “And your family and good name ruined.”
That had been just before the files from French Industries had been released to the federal government and the IRS. After the files were released, Toffer’s chosen candidate dropped from the race and vanished into the same woodwork he’d crawled out from. In the end, Toffer had ceased to be a major player in politics and A.B. had won. Hell. the voters had won.
Michael Morrow. Now there was a man any politician would love to have as a backer. But Michael played it smart. He remained out of the political world. he felt that corporations shouldn’t influence policies. He even believed that those who’d been blessed with success should be willing to give back to their communities and their country. This meant paying their fair share in taxes, not hiding their money overseas, being honest, not taking away jobs if there really wasn’t a need, and paying his employees top wages. His people were the highest paid in the state, and possibly nationally.
And he was one of the main reasons the state was so prosperous. A.B. wished all business owners would follow Michael’s example. It was an honorable one. It was one worthy of a true man.
He was ashamed at many of the others. They hid their money in offshore accounts. They cheated on their taxes. they pushed for tax relief when they actually could afford the taxes they had to pay without any real worry of losing much of their income.
The 1950’s seemed to be starting out extremely prosperous. Even with the tax on the rich and on corporations between 50 and 90%, they were still growing. the middle class was also booming and many could live comfortably. Everything was so affordable. Life was good.
Businesses were growing fast. New businesses were springing up and the older ones were simply adding on. There seemed no end to what the future might hold. Hell. Des Moines was growing.
But there was a dark side as well. That dark side included people like Toffer French. It included things like the new bill passed by Congress, The McCarran Act. It even included the little secret Congress was keeping–that little study they had been doing since last session.
The country was in peril. Too many people wanted to deviate from the vision set forth by the founding fathers. Too many were getting greedy. Corruption had suddenly become king.
He sat back and rubbed his face. Des Moines was in serious trouble. One of their own had made them the center of national attention. He had created a scandal that threatened the reputation of the city, not to mention the state.
He could do nothing but sit back and watch how it all played out. How many people would Toffer take down with him? What kind of repercussions would this whole affair have on the state and on Des Moines? What kind of repercussions would it have at the national level?
A lot of honest men could be destroyed by this. A.B. hoped not. He hoped that Toffer was the only one destroyed by the fiasco. No need for collateral damage.
Carl Hoschek was glad he was no longer in the Assembly. The French scandal was somebody else’s headache now. He was out. But, then, he felt he’d been too close. He’d done business with French Industries a couple times, then regretted doing so when he tried to get replacements for what he’d bought. Damn that scoundrel Toffer! Damn him to hell.
He could count himself lucky in the fact that he had never accepted bribe monies like some of the others he’d heard about. But none of his esteemed colleagues had accepted bribes or campaign monies from the little toad. Hell. None of them liked Toffer.
Carl had gone to school with the little man. He’d hated him with a passion even then. His man was Michael Morrow. Mike was a humble man who saw all as equals. He was as honest as the day was long. Hell. Mike would bend over backwards to help just about anyone.
Carl smiled. He liked Mike for more than just that. The Morrows had always remained outside of politics. It had never been in their best interests to even get involved. Sure, they voted. But that was as far as their involvement went.
There had never been any desire from the Morrows to influence the political agendas of the day. Yes, they had family in government. But they did not use that family as leverage for any advantages. And they strengthened the state, not to mention the city.
He had been shocked when Toffer had leveled accusations against Michael and Valeria. He had known that they weren’t capable of anything unpatriotic. There wasn’t a communist bone in either of their bodies. Toffer, on the other hand, was another story.