, 78 tweets, 18 min read Read on Twitter
Alright, after receiving some insistent DMs I suppose I'll share this (with some slight redactions) 😂

STORY TIME!

For background, keep in mind I dropped out of college in June 2000. I came back in August 2005.

During those years I was out, I worked mostly low-level gigs in a variety of legal fields

I also got super-involved with politics
If you'd like to hear some of that background in my own voice, you can check out an interview I did with NCSU Libraries here:

Or read the interview with @ScottGreenfield for @faultXlines here: mimesislaw.com/fault-lines/cr…
As with my first time at NC State, I had no clue how I was going to work on paying down what I owed them when I came back
My car actually got hit, parked in the parking lot, while I was loading up the things from my old apartment to move onto campus. I used the repair money to make my first tuition payment.

The car still had that massive dent in the side when I gave it to a 3L back in 2015.
Separate from my money/tuition woes, my time as a Republican activist led to making a lot of friends and enemies both.

I got elected Vice Chairman of my county party in March 2003. I got removed in March 2005.

I was also far more competent at the job than my successor.
So among the claque that would become Trumpists, I was an evil RINO heathen who must have sabotaged things on my way out

To the rest who weren't clinically insane, the failures of the guy who came after me made me look that much better
That led to me getting a phone call from the legislative assistant of a local R General Assemblycritter (who had a conservative voting record but got beat in a primary for being gay)

A local lobbyist was looking for an assistant, and she knew I needed a job to pay for school
Called the NCGOP leadership a bunch of f*cking morons: phoenixwebinc.net/writings/NewsO…

They banned LGBT folk from the 2004 state convention and celebrated like it was a good thing

So back to that phone call. I tell the LA that I don't have any lobbying experience. She replies that it's not really an "experience" profession. I'm perplexed but ask her to arrange a meeting.
I go to this guy's office downtown, and it's a mess. He interviews me, he's particularly impressed by how many times I've gotten a letter to the editor printed in the News & Observer (ppl still read physical papers back then), and he offers me a job as his assistant lobbyist
So I start asking HR-related questions. When do I start? Who do I give my W-4 / I-9 paperwork to? What agency do I register with to lobby? Etc etc etc
Turns out this guy did literally everything himself. He was a tobacco lobbyist during their heyday, went out on his own, and tried to save money by not hiring staff
He also had several bluest-of-blue-chip companies as his clients. One of the Big 4 card services. One of the largest ag orgs. A major auto manufacturer.

And a national cigar entity.
(I speak in the past tense b/c he's no longer with us)
So his answers to my HR-related questions is basically "::shrug::"

Very long tangent to the story short, I basically take over the backend of the office in addition to lobbying work. The accounting, the compliance paperwork, all of it.
Turns out there wasn't much compliance paperwork, because back then you didn't have to register unless you did federal lobbying

You just showed up at the General Assembly, took legislators out for lunch, asked them to pass a bill you wrote
Keep in mind I grew up in a family of modest means (upper lower class, if that's a thing)

I'd just been homeless a few years prior

The thought of regularly eating out – and paying for others to do the same – was a *totally* foreign concept
My boss knew all that, so he'd randomly ask me to join him at places like Sullivan's Steakhouse ($120 bill for the 2 of us, before tip) so that I wouldn't look uncomfortable

"Act like you've been in the end zone before" he'd say
(I also didn't drink back then. So my boss told me that if I ever did a business lunch, I was to discreetly pull the waitress aside and ask her to put a lime slice in my Sprite, so I could tell whoever I was with that it was a vodka tonic 😂 I still do that lol)
Well, despite being a 1-man shop, my boss was wildly effective at what he did. He never made any of the annual lists of top lobbyists, but he was the absolute master of his domain.
That was partly due to ruthless pragmatism in his vote counting. If you couldn't carry a bill, you got $0 campaign donations and no lunches from us. But if you could "bring the votes," he'd have PAC checks ready to go for you, treat you to dinner every other week or so, etc
This was back during the era of D supremacy in NC, so the main beneficiaries of his clients' largesse were Ds and a couple moderate Rs.

Turns out I was hired to be his token conservative to keep the other side appeased 😂
The other reason he was effective is because he was a f*ckin' hoot in social settings. Legislators genuinely enjoyed partying with him.
One of his "things" was throwing a cigar party once a year.

He'd rent out an entire restaurant in N Raleigh with one client's money. A second client would pay for the food, a third for the alcohol. And the cigar company would send a dozen boxes with a variety of high-end cigars.
So I was told I had to be at the one in 2006.

Keep in mind I'm still a student, with homework. I don't drink. I don't smoke. And I was only 25 at the time.

Meaning I stick out in all the worst ways possible.
But I show up to the venue and help make sure everything goes smoothly. Greet legislators as they arrive, introduce folks to the client reps who are there, make sure the bill gets paid at the end of the night, etc
There are only around a dozen legislators there, but they're the power elite. A former House Speaker, a future Congresscritter, some influential committee chairs.

And I'm sitting in the back of the room with the auto company rep (who was also young and didn't drink/smoke) 😂
A full head's worth 😭 I didn't lose it until 1L year of law school

As the auto rep and I are making small talk, we're just sitting in awe at all these old @$$ legislators being mesmerized by my boss (who was not nearly as entertaining in the office)
The former Speaker walks out to use the bathroom, and sees me when he walks back in...

He also sees that I'm not smoking...

And he walks over to my table...
👨🏻‍🦳: "Boy, why don't you have a cigar [said 'sih-GAHR'] in your hand?"

👴🏼 (👱🏻‍♂️ back then): "Oh, well I'm afraid I don't smoke, Mr. Speaker."

👨🏻‍🦳: "You don't smoke?? Well hell's bells son, you work for [Boss]! You represent [CigarCo]! I don't know if I can trust you ['trussya']!"
I learned later that night that this was all hazing instigated by my boss, who told the Speaker I looked insufficiently raucous

I had no idea at the time, and felt like I was suddenly in deep 💩 and was definitely going to get fired
So I'm *desperately* trying to figure a way out of this convo, when I have 1 of the maybe 2-3 moments in my entire life where something just clicked at the right time

👨🏻‍🦳: "Well?? What do you have to say for this blasphemy?"

👱🏻‍♂️: "That's the rules, sir."

👨🏻‍🦳: "The rules??"
👱🏻‍♂️: "The rules, Mr. Speaker! You've heard the saying in business that you can have any product good, fast, or cheap, as long as you only pick 2?"

👨🏻‍🦳: ::ponders:: "Yes, I reckon I've heard that a time or two."
👱🏻‍♂️: "Well the same rule applies in politics, except your choices are alcohol, tobacco, and women..."

At that point, without missing a beat, I pick up my Sprite-with-lime-wedge, raise it toward him, and go

👱🏻‍♂️: "...and sir I've picked my 2."

👨🏻‍🦳:
Dude let out theeeeeeee biggest full-belly guffaw, like it was the absolute funniest damn thing he'd ever heard in years

He puts his hand on my shoulder, squeezes it mid-laugh, and goes "Boy you'd fit right in down at the legislature!"
Meanwhile my boss was apparently staring at me from across the room to make sure I didn't say anything stupid, and gave me one of those "that'll do" head nods
It just got more surreal from there

The future lady Congresscritter, for example, *loves* cigars and had a minutes-long dissertation on cigar quality she shared with us

One of the committee chairmen, plastered, got up onto a table and recited Kipling's Gunga Din from memory
By the time the night was over and everyone left, the auto company rep is totally speechless. He shakes my hand as he leaves, thanks me for keeping him company in the back of the room, and shakes his head going "my wife is not going to believe a word of this" 😂
My boss was very pleased. Apparently the no-longer-a-legislator's Gunga Din recitation was the talk of the General Assembly for days after.
And my own performance was sufficiently non-problematic that I got a job working for a State Senator during the next legislative session 😂
Thus concludes the story of my time as a lobbyist, and the crazy dinner party with NC's political leadership when I was in my mid-20s.
Democrats controlled both chambers of the NC General Assembly and nearly all statewide offices from Reconstruction until 2010. It's a well-documented phenomenon.

Right? I don't want to attribute it to divine intervention given the subject matter, but I bullsh*t you not that it was a perfectly-timed flash of brilliance

Is that what it's called?? I can't remember where I first heard it, but I overuse it often

I'll see if I can find a photo from that time period

This was me in March 2007, @trustbustinboi – about a year after the cigar party
Yep, that pic's from 2004 when I was Vice Chairman of the WakeGOP. We had put together a primary debate for the half-dozen ppl running for Governor

I was soooooooo pissed when I found out too

Different shirt, exact same tie.

I hated wearing blue, so that was the only matching tie I had until my first senior year 😂

It was so stupid. Seems particularly so looking back through the lens of where things are in 2019

I think this was February 2007? Definitely a pic from @NCSUTechnician, but I can't remember if it was for when I ran for Student Senate President or some other reason

I mean NC Rs lost everything except POTUS and US Senate that year, so it wasn't that effective 😂

Some were, but most were progressive. NC long had a reputation as the most progressive state in the southeast

Agreed. Tough to get ppl to legislate with you when you don't even like each other

Keep in mind y'all are getting the highlight reel stories from ~20yrs of mundanity -- idk if I could do TV-show grade content all season! 😂

A co-worker from that era has DM'd me to advise that I made an error with how the former Speaker pronounced "cigar"

He stressed the 1st syllable, not the 2nd. So my tweet should've read "SIH-gahr" instead.

I regret the error 😂
I think the poetry thing is sufficiently well known now that I can reveal former Sen. David Weinstein as the Gunga Din reciter – it was super impressive

I haven't gotten that one yet!

When I was younger folks said Tom Cruise; when I first went bald and Transporter came out, several said Jason Statham. Angle is a new one

Thanks! My gf is still upset, because I still had hair when we met 👴🏼

I usually go with a solid orange tie now. But still wear the white undershirts

I sheepishly confess that I did not know this was a thing

Maybe after I'm married, own a house, and have six+ figures in my bank account 😉

I had not heard this, but it sounds accurate 😂

You read my mind a few tweets before I posted the gif 😂

In law school I just started ordering a whiskey sour and taking 3 hours to drink it

I'm not sure if that's good or bad 🤣

This specific tie is f*ckin beautiful

She has an account, but stopped using it when I went viral b/c my tweets ended up flooding her timeline 🙈

She also passionately *hates* that I'm into politics 😑 @Pr1nc3ssButtrcp
Local and state-level corruption eroded the Ds' reputation, then 2010 midterms gave Rs a majority that coincided with the Census and redrawing the maps. By 2012 there were veto-proof supermajorities due to gerrymandering

Yeah when he mentioned it, I realized he was right and that I typed it different from how it sounded in my head

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