The basement meeting room was dark and smoky, just the way that Jeni Butterfield, the ranking Republican strategist, liked it. She thoughtfully examined the lit end of her Havanna before taking a deep drag and blowing the smoke towards her legal counsel, Brad Haverford. He fended off the fumes and took a fortifying sip from his unidentified amber liquid. Then he placed the tumbler on its coaster, ran his fingers through his sandy blond hair, and pursed his lips.
“Just spit it out already.” Jeni commanded. “You’re not asking your high school sweetheart to the prom.”
Haverford rubbed his clean-shaven chin. “I’m just considering all the angles. There are a considerable number of relevant court decisions to consider. Some of them are…contradictory.”
“And, as my attorney, your job is to make an educated guess. Is it legal or not?”
“As far as I can tell, there are no laws against collecting and storing data on minors yourself as long as they’re in public and the content is not lewd: it’s just unethical. That being said, if it ever comes out that I gave you this advice, I could get disbarred.”
Jeni flicked a bit of ash off her black pencil skirt and leaned back in her chair.
“Please, no one ever gets disbarred. Did you hear about the guy in Virginia who knocked up his underage secretary but managed to keep his certification? You lawyers are all as thick as thieves.”
Haverford crossed his arms. “I assure you that here in D.C. we set the bar much higher.”
Jeni snorted. “Whatever. Just give me an overview of how you see a court case going down.”
Haverford smirked. “If it comes out later, you could argue that the person involved is a public figure and therefore exempt from certain privacy considerations.”
“I like the way you think. I can see it now – a photo of the 2048 Democratic candidate doing a keg stand.”
“You never told me how you got your hands on the list of likely Democratic presidential candidates three decades from now.”
Jeni shrugged. “Some new A.I. software tool. I had to give it access to all of our records, but I think it was worth it. We’ll –“
She was cut off by her phone emitting a wail not dissimilar to that of a dying possum. Jeni snatched it up, mouthed “POTUS” at Haverford, and rushed out of the room. Since she’d already gotten the answer she wanted, Haverford knew she wouldn’t be back. He calmly sipped at his liquor for a few minutes to round out the hour that he would be charging to Ms. Butterfield’s account. For the price he was charging the RNC, he could afford to be scrupulous. Then he slowly rose, put on his coat, and boarded his waiting limousine.
Not two blocks away from where Ms. Butterfield and Mr. Haverford were meeting, Democrat heavyweight Alan Briggs bragged to his secretary as she prepared to leave for the night, describing a new software tool that he had acquired. The long-suffering secretary nodded and continued to gather her things. She knew that when Alan was on a roll to let him finish unhindered.
“And all I had to do was give their program access to our records. Can you imagine how easy it will be to get dirt on future Republican candidates? They’ll field a candidate, but the week before the election, bam, scandal!”
The secretary managed to nod her way out the door after several minutes of inching towards the exit. Alan scarcely seemed to notice that she had left as he finished singing the praises of the new software tool before sitting down at his computer to go through his neglected email inbox.
On the other side of the coast in San Francisco, Paul Lemetz and his date for the evening were sitting down to dinner on Rodeo Drive when his phone dinged. He checked the text, which was from his business partner. Although the message was only two words long, it would change the face of politics forever.
(NOTE: User was awarded 25 shmuckers for this post. -Rob)