Two colleagues from the White House of Democratic president Bill Clinton and his vice president, Al Gore, have followed twisted but prosperous paths since those halcyon years of Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky.
Arguably the most famous of the pair is Mark Fabiani, who landed in the money fields of La Jolla, where he is currently waging a well-publicized war with Republican San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer over the fate of the Chargers, where Fabiani is on retainer as special counsel.
Fabiani's longtime partner in power, Chris Lehane, has led a less publicized but equally intriguing life as a well-compensated political and lobbying consultant, sometimes alongside Fabiani, sometimes not.
Three years ago, Lehane tried to become more famous via way of Hollywood, writing and producing a movie about the pair’s dubious trade.
Sex-hyped movie bombs
"Knife Fight is about sex, drugs, money and how politics is really played — a knife fight in a telephone booth, where blood is spilled, low blows are common and the best candidate is not always the best person," said a 2012 promotional piece about the picture, starring professional bad boy Rob Lowe.
With a star like Rob Lowe, how did it miss?
The sordid saga made a quick trip to video.
But the consulting firm of Fabiani & Lehane lives on.
The firm's website says "Fabiani & Lehane is a strategic communications firm based in California with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The firm provides strategic advice and tactical execution to companies, trade groups, public sector institutions, candidates for public office and individuals facing complex financial, marketing, branding, media, legal, and image challenges."
In Sacramento, Lehane played a key behind-the-scenes role in rallying politicians and public behind a new subsidized basketball stadium for the Kings, partially owned by the three sons of San Diego Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs.
Other assignments have included a 2009 push in Los Angeles for Italian-made urban rail cars, and for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, doing damage control during a 2007 Writers Guild strike.
In March 2011, they were hired by the L.A.-based Kabbalah Center during a controversy involving Madonna's Malawi school failure.
Hired by Texas Republican Rick Perry
In August of last year, Fabiani was in the news for signing on with the legal team of Texas governor Rick Perry, battling a felony indictment.
"I'm proud to join Governor Perry's outstanding team which has been assembled to fight back against this attack on the rule of law," a Fabiani statement said. "I am confident this prosecution will be revealed to be contrary to the law and wholly meritless."
As Fabiani has battled on for Republican Perry and against San Diego's GOP mayor Faulconer, Lehane — who earlier this year boasted that he and Fabiani had drafted the Clintons' famous 1995 "right wing conspiracy" memo — has been similarly busy working for a host of other well-heeled clients.
Chief among them has been Democratic hedge-fund billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer and his Next Generation political operation. Lehane boasted in 2014 that Steyer's group had created “one of the biggest political infrastructures in the country in the key ’16 states,” according to Politico, though most of the favored hopefuls lost.
To boost Airbnb’s troubled fortunes
Now comes word via Politico that Lehane has become head of global policy and public affairs for Airbnb, the controversial online vacation-rental outfit that's lately been battling with San Diego's Faulconer-led city hall over whether renters have to obtain conditional use permits or else face stiff fines as high as $250,000.
“Chris will be directing our work with policymakers and our efforts to educate more people, organizations and stakeholders about Airbnb and the right to share your home,” says an announcement of the move on Airbnb’s company blog.
“Chris and his team will also help organize our hosts and ensure their voices are heard loud and clear by policymakers who are learning more about Airbnb.”
According to Politico, "Lehane, who has worked as an outside consultant with Airbnb for about a year, said the move is because he shares a common vision with the home-sharing service, but that he remained close to Steyer.”
In San Diego, Airbnb has already retained the services of California Strategies, the Sacramento-based influence-peddling firm founded by Bob White, the ex-top aide to Republican San Diego mayor, senator, and governor Pete Wilson.
White’s mission: “Adoption of a policy that supports AirBnB’s continued operation in the City of San Diego.”
Faulconer's struggles with both the Chargers and Airbnb and their army of lawyers and lobbyists don't appear likely to end soon. In the case of the football team, the September 11 deadline set by the mayor to begin negotiations over his rush Mission Valley stadium plan, has been repeatedly spurned by Fabiani.