Dark Money by Larry Thompson
A Jack Bryant Thriller
Jackson Bryant, the millionaire plaintiff lawyer who turned to pro bono work in Dead Peasants, is caught up in the collision of money and politics when he receives a call from his old army buddy Walt Frazier. Walt needs his assistance in evaluating security for Texas Governor Rob Lardner at a Halloween costume fundraiser thrown by one of the nation’s richest Republican billionaires at his mansion in Fort Worth.
Miriam Van Zandt is the best marksman among The Alamo Defenders, an anti-government militia group in West Texas. She attends the fundraiser dressed as a cat burglar–wounds the governor and murders the host’s brother, another Republican billionaire. She is shot in the leg but manages to escape.
Jack is appointed special prosecutor and must call on the Texas DPS SWAT team to track Van Zandt and attack The Alamo Defenders’ compound in a lonely part of West Texas. Van Zandt’s father, founder of the Defenders, is killed in the attack and Miriam is left in a coma. The authorities declare victory and close the case-but Jack knows better. The person behind the Halloween massacre has yet to be caught. When Walt and the protective detail are sued by the fundraiser host and the widow of the dead man, Jack follows the dark money of political contributions from the Cayman Islands to Washington to Eastern Europe, New York and New Orleans to track the real killer and absolve his friend and the Protective Detail of responsibility for the massacre.
Dark Money is a thriller, a mystery and an expose of the corruption of money in politics caused by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.
Read an excerpt of Dark Money:
The convoy of three troop trucks made its way through the northeastern part of Saudi Arabia on their way to join up with other American troops in Dhahran. Jack Bryant, a lawyer from Texas who was called up from his practice in Beaumont, was riding shotgun in the front truck. He was a sergeant and the senior NCO in the convoy. They passed through several villages deserted or nearly so out of fear of the rapidly moving Iraq army. The convoy approached another village, apparently abandoned, when Jack raised his hand.
“Stop. I saw a glint of metal in a balcony about a hundred yards ahead on the right, and then it disappeared. I’m getting out my side and will use the door as a shield. Open your door as quietly as possible. Go back to the men and tell them to maintain complete silence. I don’t even want to hear the click of a cigarette lighter until I signal.”
Seconds turned into minutes. Jack continued to focus on the balcony. After twenty minutes the driver was thinking that his sergeant must have been imagining something when a head slowly surfaced above the wall on the balcony. Jack waited until he could see the mouth and fired one round, striking the Iraq sniper directly between the eyes. The enemy soldier dropped from sight.
Bryant climbed back into his seat and told his driver they could now move out.
“You sure, Sarge? Could be you only wounded him.”
“Trust me. I don’t miss from this distance. He’s dead. Let’s get going. I hope we’ll still have a little light when we get to the barracks.”
What if you lived in a country where a Democratic billionaire, a Republican billionaire or a giant corporation could secretly contribute unlimited amounts of money to a political campaign?
Guess what? You do. Since the United States Supreme Court decided a case called Citizens United several years ago and followed it with two other recent decisions that claimed that political contributions were protected by the First Amendment and its freedom of speech clause, the big rich and big corporations can effectively control elections, and there’s little that we can do about it. There was no longer a limit on campaign contributions.
They can rely on 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations as their roadmap to political secret contributions. These organizations have been around for over a hundred years. In the 1950s the Supreme Court decided a case where the state of Alabama wanted the NAACP, a 501(c)(4) organization, to turn over the names of its contributors. At that time the Supreme Court rightfully said that those contributors must remain confidential for fear of retribution against their members and contributors. It was the right decision at the time.
Only times have changed. Originally, such organizations had to exclusively fund social welfare. Think of Habitat for Humanity or the Boy Scouts. Somewhere along the way the IRS interpreted exclusively to mean primarily, and the ball game changed. With the advent of unlimited campaign contributions, the political fundraisers realized 501(c)(4) organizations were their entrée to boardrooms across the country. They knew that “social welfare” was really not defined by the IRS: They could run a television campaign, attacking a Congressman or Senator by asking the viewer to call that politician with a request that he quit voting in favor of, say, gun control. If 51% of the funds went into that campaign, then the other 49% could be contributed to another PAC that could directly attack the Congressman or Senator.
And, if an inquiring reporter asked the PAC to provide a list of contributors, it merely has to say that the money came from the 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, and those names were confidential. The contributors, even if they have contributed tens of millions of dollars, remain secret. And there’s nothing you and I can do about it.
Well, we could ask Congress to write a law, overriding what the Supreme Court did. Would Congress do that? Of course not. The more money that flows into politics, the better the politicians like it. They are not about to restrict that river of money flowing to Washington.
It’s for that reason that I wrote DARK MONEY. It’s first and foremost a thriller and a mystery, but it is also an expose’ of the corruption of money in politics. Read it. You’ll like it. When you put down after reading the last page, you’ll scratch your head and wonder how did our political system get in such a mess?
Larry D. Thompson is a veteran trial lawyer and has drawn on decades of experience in the courtroom to produce riveting legal thrillers. After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Thompson founded the Houston trial firm where he still serves as managing partner. The proud father of three grown children, he lives and works in Texas but spends his summers in Colorado, where he crafts his novels and hikes the mountains surrounding Vail. His greatest inspiration came from Thomas Thompson, his brother, who wrote many best-selling true-crime books and novels.
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Hmmm interesting! Definitely makes you think!
Thanks for introducing us to this author! Looks like a good book!