About This Series | Chapters:

Chapter 20

The loss of a long-time client provokes a violent eruption of Cassidy's famous temper.

By Robert G. Kaiser

Campaign contribution reports on file at the Federal Election Commission reveal that in December 2001, 14 employees of Cassidy & Associates gave a total of $7,500 to a political action committee affiliated with Rep. Ray LaHood, a popular moderate Republican from Illinois. This pattern of giving, all reported to the FEC on the same day, suggests that Cassidy & Associates sponsored a fundraiser for LaHood, which turns out to be true. But the records don't begin to tell the whole story.

This was a difficult time for Cassidy & Associates. December 2001 was the end of the second year of new ownership by the Interpublic Group (IPG), a global conglomerate of advertising and public relations firms [See Chapter 18]. Many of the lobbyists who had helped make Cassidy & Associates the highest-grossing lobbying business in Washington felt ill-rewarded by the deal. While Cassidy made millions, many of his lobbyists say they felt their end of the stick looked short. An exodus had begun, and Gerald Cassidy expected more lobbyists to be leaving soon. Clients were leaving too -- 44 of them in 2000, 51 more in 2001 -- and Cassidy's remaining lobbyists scrambled to find new ones. Relations with the new owner had been rocky. The future of the business was uncertain.

His oldest friends were worried about Cassidy. He hadn't been himself, several of them said. In 2000, he had very publicly taken up with another woman, even buying a $2.9 million house for the two to live in on Q St. in Georgetown. He had told numerous associates that he planned to divorce his wife, Loretta, and marry the other woman. The firm was abuzz with this news. Loretta Cassidy had hired her own divorce lawyer.

"If I hadn't heard it as a real fact I never would have believed it," said Carol Casey, a devoted employee who had herself left the firm in 2000, soon after it was sold. "I was really shocked," Casey said. She thought Cassidy's partnership with Loretta -- whom he met when he was 20 and she was 17 and married when she was almost 22 -- had been profoundly important to him. Casey and many other friends of the Cassidys were relieved when the couple reconciled.

Inside Cassidy's grand offices at 700 13th St. NW, offices originally designed by his oldest colleague, James Fabiani, tensions ran high. Cassidy's collaboration with Fabiani had soured and would end within a month.

Cassidy's relations with IPG also were rocky. At one meeting with Fabiani and David Whitmore, IPG's chief financial officer handling the merger with Cassidy & Associates, Whitmore suggested that perhaps Jody Powell was the wrong person to merge Powell Tate and the Washington office of Shandwick, another public relations company owned by IPG. This was the trickiest part of the merger. Hearing this, Cassidy lost his temper and hurled a water glass in Whitmore's direction, according to Whitmore and Fabiani. The glass smashed against the wall just behind him, sprinkling shards into Whitmore's hair, he recounted. Whitmore continued talking to Cassidy for another 45 minutes to try to calm him down and discuss other options. Shandwick executives who heard about the incident pressed Whitmore to report it to IPG executives, which he later did. An IPG official was sent to interview Fabiani and Whitmore, who described the event similarly, and then to talk to Cassidy.

(In a separate interview Cassidy said he had slammed his fist on a table, bouncing a water pitcher onto the floor, where it shattered. He said he had refused to talk to the IPG executive who came to question him about what had happened.)

Another source of tension was Marty Russo, a nine-term member of Congress from the suburbs of Chicago who had joined the firm in 1993 after losing a primary. Russo's Cassidy & Associates business card is embossed with a gold seal of the House of Representatives, and identifies him first as "Member of Congress (retired)," and second, in smaller letters, as a Cassidy employee.

Marty Russo's busines card
Marty Russo's busines card.

Cassidy named Russo the firm's chief operating officer, while Fabiani was its president and chief executive officer. (Cassidy was chairman.) Fabiani and Russo disliked one another cordially.

On Dec. 12, 2001, Fabiani recalls, he and Russo rode together in Fabiani's chauffeur-driven limousine to the house at 631 A Street S.E. on Capitol Hill, where the LaHood fundraiser took place. This was the home of Jean Davis, a secretary in the firm. She had offered the use of her house as a favor to Arthur Mason, a Republican lobbyist in the firm who had organized the event.

Dec. 12 had been a bad day for Cassidy & Associates. Texas Tech University had notified the firm that it planned to drop Cassidy as its Washington lobbyist, Fabiani said. For years Texas Tech had been represented by Vincent Versage, one of the senior Cassidy lobbyists who left the firm after it was sold to IPG, and Frank Godfrey. Versage had recently helped establish The National Group, a rival firm. David J. Schmidly, the president of Texas Tech at the time, said in an interview that he had decided to move his business to Versage's new firm. "Vince was the person who had really delivered for us," Schmidly said.

On the way to the fundraiser, Fabiani recalled, Russo blamed Godfrey, who had remained at Cassidy & Associates, for losing Texas Tech. Like Versage, Godfrey was an old-timer at the firm, which he joined in 1984. Fabiani, Versage and Godfrey all felt that Russo was threatened by their relationships with Cassidy, and that Russo tried to undermine them with the boss. Godfrey, who came to Cassidy from the staff of House Speaker Tip O'Neill, had serviced Texas Tech after Versage left Cassidy at the end of 2000.

"Marty was talking about how Frank had screwed up Texas Tech, how they were firing the firm because Frank had handled the account badly," Fabiani recalled. "I said, 'Marty that's not what happened at all.' He wanted to pin the thing on Frank."

Russo said in an interview that he did not remember this conversation, or riding to the event with Fabiani.

When they arrived at the fundraiser, Fabiani saw Russo make a beeline for Cassidy, who was in the kitchen. Davis, the hostess, had been surprised by Cassidy's decision to appear at the event. She recalled: "He went to the big-dog fundraisers and usually didn't go to Republican fundraisers. I didn't expect he'd come to something at my modest home." But there he was, in the kitchen.

Fabiani recounted what happened: "Marty goes right to the kitchen area, grabs Gerry by the arm and works Gerry over verbally." He was giving Cassidy the news about Texas Tech. "Gerry exploded. He banged into me coming around a corner."

At this moment Davis was walking down the hallway of the little house, toward the kitchen. She had just noticed Godfrey leaning up against the wall near the front door, when she saw Cassidy "charging full speed ahead toward me, screaming obscenities. I just got out of his way."

Cassidy charged towards Godfrey in a fury, witnesses said. Rep. LaHood was standing nearby, looking on, but his presence did not deter Cassidy. Steve Whitaker, then a lobbyist at the firm, remembered opening the front door just as Cassidy grabbed the knot of Godfrey's necktie and pushed him hard up against the wall once, then a second time. Several people, including Russo, quickly stepped in; Russo grabbed Cassidy away from Godfrey and rushed him out the front door, according to several who saw this happen. Cassidy was soon in his chauffeured limo and on his way.

When asked recently about what had happened that night, Cassidy said he had merely touched Godfrey's necktie while taking him outside for a stern talking-to about the lost client. He said Russo would confirm this account. But in an interview Russo said he pulled Cassidy away from Godfrey and then led Cassidy outside. Russo said he did not remember Cassidy shoving Godfrey up against the wall, the version recounted by several other eyewitnesses, including one with no connection to the firm, Cassidy or Godfrey.

Cassidy's temper was famous inside the firm. Virtually every employee had seen it erupt, and many felt it directed at them. Some could brush it off; others were deeply hurt by it.

Frank Godfrey
Frank Godfrey joined Cassidy & Associates in 1984. He left the firm nearly 20 years later. (Courtesy The National Group)

Godfrey often bore the brunt of the boss's tantrums, according to numerous former colleagues. He was "a good natured, sweet, loving teddy bear of a man," according to Versage. "Frank was incredibly forgiving. He was not built to fight or hate. He just could not fathom that anyone could want to do him harm."

To the frustration of Godfrey's wife, Colette, a lawyer, that had been his reaction on Dec. 12, 2001. He initially sought to minimize the incident. When he got home that night, Colette Godfrey recalled, "he was badly shaken," but he told her he had to get up early the next morning to travel to Newark, N.J., to see a client, Seton Hall University. Colette Godfrey was furious at her husband; "Let Gerry go!" she remembered yelling at him. She wanted him to quit at once and to take legal action.

One of Godfrey's best friends, a former Cassidy lobbyist named Douglass Bobbitt, shared her frustration and also tried to persuade Godfrey that he had to quit the firm. Godfrey refused. "He looked up to Cassidy, he was proud to be associated with the firm," Bobbitt said. Godfrey went to Seton Hall the next day.

Employees of Cassidy & Associates who attended the LaHood fundraiser were approached in the office the next day or soon afterward by lawyers for the firm who asked them to sign a statement downplaying the incident. Several refused to sign.

According to several friends, Godfrey soon realized he would have to leave the firm.

Two days after the incident, Godfrey went to his doctor, complaining that he had been "throttled" so forcefully the buttons had ripped off his shirt. "He has difficulty swallowing," reported the doctor in a note for his files. He described swelling, tenderness and abrasions on Godfrey's neck. Godfrey consulted Joseph DiGenova, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and his wife, Victoria Toensing, a former Justice Department official, to discuss legal action. Toensing took the case and reached a settlement. It required both sides to keep its terms confidential. Cassidy paid Godfrey $800,000.

Cassidy says Godfrey was fired by the firm as part of a restructuring authorized by IPG, the parent company. IPG allowed the firm to make generous severance payments to a number of employees it wanted to get rid of, Cassidy said; the settlement with Godfrey was just his severance payment.

"To my knowledge Frank did not get fired," said Bobbitt, his close friend. "He told me at the time that he was worried that if he didn't accept the settlement he'd been offered, he would get fired.'" Godfrey went to work as a lobbyist for Versage's National Group.

Three-and-a-half years later, on June 23, 2005, Frank Godfrey suffered a heart attack at home and died in front of his wife and children at age 51. He had no history of heart trouble. Besides Colette he left two children, Meredith, then 10, and Cooper, 13.

The 23rd was a Thursday. On Saturday and Sunday, the Godfreys received friends at an Alexandria funeral home where Godfrey's body lay in an open casket. The Cassidys came.

Wendy Burnley, wife of James H. Burnley IV, secretary of transportation under President Reagan, was helping Colette, her close friend. She remembered approaching Cassidy at the funeral home to ask "if he would be interested in organizing or participating in some way in an educational trust for Cooper and Meredith to make sure they would have college." Burnley is Meredith Godfrey's godmother.

"He said, 'Yes, I will get right on that,' " Burnley recalled. Cassidy told her he would get in touch with his lawyers on Monday morning, then get in touch with her, she recalled. "He seemed very agreeable, but I never heard from him again."

On Monday after the viewing, St. Paul's Church in Old Town Alexandria was jammed with hundreds of mourners. Versage's description of Godfrey as sweet, good-natured and forgiving was part of his eulogy that day. After the service the Godfreys received visitors in their comfortable big house near Mt. Vernon. The Cassidys came to the house, but according to Colette Godfrey, avoided talking to her. When she saw them leaving her house she followed them out the door. "I said, 'Gerry, Frank loved you.' I said it twice. He seemed startled. Finally he said, 'Well, I loved him.'" Bobbitt was another eulogist at the funeral. A week later, he remembered, Cassidy called to praise his eulogy and called it "perfect."

"I miss him," Cassidy told Bobbitt. His voice cracked. "You know," Bobbitt recalled saying to Cassidy, "he looked up to you."

"Yeah, I know that," Cassidy replied, according to Bobbitt. "I think Gerry felt bad that he had never apologized to Frank," Bobbitt added.

Last June, as the anniversary of Godfrey's death was approaching, Wendy Burnley called Cassidy to invite him to a small gathering. She learned that Cassidy would be away on June 23.

"His secretary said I'm sure he'll want to talk to you," Burnley remembered. "I said I'd like to talk to him about contributing to the college fund. Made two more follow-up calls, I never spoke to him. She finally said to me, 'Mr. Cassidy is not going to be able to do anything at this time.' "

Asked about this, Cassidy said: "I didn't make a contribution, and I never said I would."

Washington Post research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Monday: Gerald Cassidy shows his generous side.

Key Related Materials

Documents / Web sites / Newspaper Stories

A Response From Cassidy & Associates

Today's grossly exaggerated caricature of Gerry Cassidy by The Washington Post compels us to respond. Each of us now serve as corporate officers of Cassidy & Associates and have been a part of the firm for upwards of 15 to 20 years. We have worked closely with Gerry to build the city's leading government relations firm and are proud to call him our friend. We know Gerry Cassidy to be a generous man and respect and admire him for his devotion to our firm, to us and our families. Throughout the years, Gerry and Loretta have been there for us and we are happy to support them now.

Gregory M. Gill, Executive Vice President & General Counsel

Arthur D. Mason, Executive Vice President

Daniel J. McNamara, Executive Vice President

Mary E. Shields, Executive Vice President

Barbara Sutton, Executive Vice President

Gerald Felix Warburg, Executive Vice President

About This Series | Chapters:

Photo Gallery

An overview of Gerald Cassidy's life and career.

Key Players

A "cast of characters" in the life and career of Gerald Cassidy.

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My name is Sheila Tate. I am the "Tate" in Powell Tate.

I am also apparently the only principal in Powell Tate who Bob Kaiser didn't bother to contact. Does that strike anyone as odd?

If he had I'd have been able to contribute a good deal of perspective and insight into the "cast of characters" in this soap opera Kaiser is stage managing.

I've been tempted to post several times but decided to watch this incredible display of testosterone poisoning play out first.

Today, however, after reading this chapter, I need to make a few observations.

Dear readers, Gerry Cassidy may not be a perfect human being but he is head and shoulders over these little "munchkins" who pretend to be better than he is. I have watched Gerry fashion brilliant strategies in the midst of crisis that saved clients from disaster. The munchkins could only develop an organizational matrix.

I know so many stories of personal compassion involving Gerry Cassidy it would require 20 more chapters. Spare us all!

One that I will be remember as long as I live:

One terrible day in 1998 Gerry ordered all Cassidy offices closed. It was the day my husband was being buried. Hundreds of people did no billable work that day out of respect for my grief. In contrast, when Jon Jessar died in 1990, all Jim Fabiani could talk about was how much it was costing the company. If I'd have had a glass tumbler handy that day ....

This gossip mongering by the Washington Post is really contemptible. I always thought Bob Kaiser was a serious journalist. Note to self: revise opinion.

Oh, by the way, Bob, as long as we're going to gossip. Since you made Jim Fabiani into such a large part of your series, why did you choose to overlook his very "public" extracurricular activities?

Posted by: state | March 30, 2007 09:34 AM

This is a classic anger management problem by a driven, arrogant individual. Over almost 40 years, I've worked with a number of these people. Hurting people can serve to 1)control them through fear, where there is overt intimidation or the looming threat of another eruption, and 2)the settling into a neurotic, preditor/victim relationship, where seeking approval of the powerful abuser perpetuates the employment relationship on one side, and sadism maintains satisfaction on the other. It is sick and not more complicated than that.

My guess is that Mr. Cassidy is not particularly talented. He makes up for lack of ability--no doubt he has some in certain areas--through being mean. Aggessiveness and focus can accomplish a lot in the PR/fund raising/sales field, forcing others to fall into line. When you have an achievable goal, it works for business purposes, devastating the lives of employees in the process. It is a matter of WILL and, as it suites Mr. Cassidy, unbridled anger.

Posted by: wpaul-kathymiller | March 30, 2007 10:16 AM

I hope those who are posting criticizing the article believe what they are saying and have good reason for so believing. Otherwise, they're just enablers, perhaps as complicit as the principal.

Posted by: blipper | March 30, 2007 10:24 AM

As much as I fondly remember the Clinton years, I've always been a big admirer of Sheila Tate. I remember her from working, is this right?, for Nancy Reagan. Always right to the point. Fun comment.

Posted by: John2.Bravo | March 30, 2007 10:52 AM

I just want to say that Frank Godfrey was a wonderful human being. I only knew him for a few years while at Cassidy, but he made a big impact the type of professional I knew I wanted to be. He is missed.

Posted by: LLawrence | March 30, 2007 10:55 AM

I've been a friend of Loretta Cassidy for about fifty-eight years since we were both of elementary school age in a very Italian South Philadelphia when she was Loretta Palladino. 33 of the 58 years, I have been Gerry Cassidy's friend, as well. And, for more than three decades, I have been a witness to and a participant in the joys of their married life, and a friend and supporter during the times of challenge and bumps along the road that always are part of life's journey.

Over the last thirty-three years we have traveled together and been engaged in endless conversations about the Bible, the Church and the Catholic Faith we share. The three of us have a common passion for history, art and architecture and the ways people pass on their heritage and identity through food and table sharing.

Given my longstanding relationship with Loretta and Gerry, I must say I was taken a back with the portrait that Mr. Kaiser has drawn of Gerry. The Gerry Cassidy that Mr. Kaiser depicts is not the Gerry Cassidy I know.

The articles don't depict the generous man I know.

They don't depict the man I've seen focusing on the success of his firm because he knew that so many people in that firm depended on its success for the livelihood of their families.

They don't depict the man I know who knows himself to be no saint but who believes deeply in redemption and the power of God's grace to heal and reconcile.

They don't depict the man I know who regrets deeply the times he's been overpowered by his Irish temper, but who can equally use the strength and force of his personality and temperament for the good and well-being of others;

Finally, they don't depict the man and woman I know whose strong and devoted love for each other has only deepened and grown over time as they have weathered the storms in life together and come out stronger and better for it.

- Rev. Andrew D. Ciferni, O.Praem
Daylesford Abbey

Posted by: almutium | March 30, 2007 10:58 AM

I truly believe that Chapter 20 is gutter journalism, not worthy of the National Enquirer, and a disgrace to the Washington Post.

Until recent years the private lives of public figures were respected and considered off limits to journalists. That line has been crossed, particularly in the case of public officials engaged in relationships with subordinates or others related to performance of public functions.

I have assumed that responsible publications attempt to weigh the public's need to know about the private conduct of public figures against the inherent right to privacy that the individual has. In the case of a high government official engaged in relations with a government contractor, for example, I can see how the public's need to know might prevail over the right to privacy.

But Gerry and Loretta Cassidy are private citizens. The public has no right nor need to know anything about their private lives. So what have Mr. Kaiser and the Post's editors weighed against Gerry and Loretta's right to privacy? The Post's greed for more readers? Mr. Kaiser's desire for carefully selected salacious material to attract more readers? These are not considerations worthy of a national newspaper, nor of its executive editor. I think both should be ashamed.

Basic human decency must survive in our culture, since a shared sense of decency is essential to the happiness and well being of all people. Without a shared sense of decency the basic American social culture as we know it cannot survive.

Although I am not suggesting that chapter 20 will destroy our culture, I do believe very strongly that a distinguished newspaper,like the Washington Post, and a distinguished journalist, like Mr. Kaiser, should be at the forefront in defending and preserving the decency that is required for our culture to function. I believe that the elevated status they have been accorded by our culture carries an obligation to put basic human decency ahead of making the next nickel.

Ruff Fant

Posted by: rfant | March 30, 2007 11:06 AM

Perhaps when a person deliberately brings his private life into the office, it ceases to be a private matter. Perhaps when a person's inability to control his temper leads to physical assault in the office or at a business function, that behavior becomes germane. I agree with Mr. Fant that "basic human decency must survive in our culture, since a shared sense of decency is essential to the happiness and well being of all people"---the operative word being "all" people. Perhaps the "munchkins" have the temerity to think they are entitled to be treated with decency as well. And perhaps money and power should not render someone exempt from owning his behavior and being held accountable for it no matter how much money he gives to charity, how well he treats his friends, or how many corporate strategies he rescues.

Posted by: MaryZ | March 30, 2007 12:57 PM

Touching a tie leads to health problems? If only someone had told Rodney Dangerfield.

Posted by: John2.Bravo | March 30, 2007 01:16 PM

MaryZ -- but Gerald Cassidy is not truly a public figure, not in the legal sense -- or at least he wasn't until Kaiser decided to make him one. So this kind of sensationalism just seems like incredibly bad form. I don't care what happened all those years ago. Has Robert Kaiser never lost his temper? Kaiser was more of a public figure than Cassidy until this series started...

Posted by: sportsfan | March 30, 2007 01:22 PM

Hey rosebudsnowglobe you're completely out of line with personal attacks. Bribery, kickbacks -- not only can't I believe you said that, I can't believe the Post is putting libelous talk like that on Kaiser's series. I thought this was all pretty intelligent stuff we've been getting and discussing, but to see that? Wonder if Kaiser's bothered that this is what it's come to. And what's with the anti-Semitic talk? How did Manischewitz get in here? And making fun of Jewish songs. You don't speak for me. I wonder if you speak for the Post.

Posted by: John2.Bravo | March 30, 2007 03:36 PM

rosebudsnowglobe, have you lost your precious childhood sled?

Posted by: sportsfan | March 30, 2007 03:42 PM

It seems interesting that in the response from Cassidy's firm and Shelia Tate, no one is arguing that the facts in the story are wrong. I certainly understand how people who are close to him may be upset if Kaiser's reporting doesn't accurately represent Cassidy's story, but isn't that a matter of perspective? And even if you think everything until this point has been unfair (as someone with no affiliation to anyone in the story, it seems to be pretty fair to me), why not wait until you have a chance to read the entire story before passing judgment on Kaiser? Who knows what future chapters will hold.

Posted by: cbbjr | March 30, 2007 03:43 PM

Can't we all just get along? Spring is here and the country is safe. If only our troops could be at home with their families to enjoy the weather.

Posted by: peterpaulmary | March 30, 2007 03:46 PM

cbbjr, I hear what you're saying but consider that Cassidy is only a public figure because Kaiser has now made him one. So first he makes him public and then he knocks him down (figuratively) -- is that fair? As I understand it Cassidy has never sought the spotlight. The facts seem irrelevant to me, it shouldn't be in the Washington Post.

Posted by: sportsfan | March 30, 2007 03:54 PM

Have you heard the one about Fred and the Little Mermaid and the books in La Jolla?

Posted by: thumbelina1325 | March 30, 2007 03:59 PM

just6dollars.org

Posted by: steven.willhite | March 30, 2007 04:42 PM

wpaulkathymiller, I believe you have hit the nail on the head. Like any good parasite, Gerry has taken the ideas of others and twisted them to fit his view of his own self serving ideas of wealth, irregardless of its impact on others. I found the story very credible regarding Godfrey. And really, does anyone believe that Godfrey's 800,000.00 was severence? Gerry Cassidy, from the moment this story began, has shown us what really lies beneath his exterior..... ruthless, selfish, money driven, with a complete lack of loyalty to others. That this man has built a business, living off corrupting the process our Democracy, will surely cost him his soul. Granted, he couldn't have done it without willing partners in government. Let me help clarify the intentions of the founding fathers for those of you who believe that our country was built on the premise that people are suppose to pursue wealth to the detriment of society. Jefferson fully believed that a healthy Democracy was dependent on a viable middle class that was able to fully paricipate in the democratic process and therefore keep a check on its government. What Gerry Cassidy has been instrumental in propogating is the utter corruption of that process.

Posted by: Rachaelcre8f8 | March 30, 2007 04:43 PM

Oh, and Rosebudsnowglobe, you couldn't be more right!!! Maybe you need to write a little more slowly for Johnny Bravo :)

Posted by: Rachaelcre8f8 | March 30, 2007 04:48 PM

just6dollars.org

Posted by: steven.willhite | March 30, 2007 04:49 PM

thanx for letting me post again. I'll behave, I promise!

Posted by: steven.willhite | March 30, 2007 04:59 PM

Hey Rachaelcre8f8, why are you attacking me? i never said anything wrong about you. In fact, I've been enjoying reading this series. I just thought that comment earlier went so far over the line into libel, I can't believe it's in the Post. Don't they have lawyers looking at this stuff? I had been enjoying this series. Now it's just turned so mean. Nice job Bob Kaiser. You really brought eveyone together -- to hate each other.

Posted by: John2.Bravo | March 30, 2007 05:05 PM

rosebudsnowglobe writes "There is no excuse for thuggery.
Rev., do you also agree with Mel Gibson? It's not me, it's the wine talking? If Gibson had been drinking Manischewitz, he would have been singing Havana Gila? "

johnybravo, my point is that you clearly missed what rosebud was alluding to. That when it comes to abusive obnoxious behavior, using excuses like alchohol made me do it or someones ethnic background simply doesn't hold water. Her point was that Mel Gibson is clearly an anti-semite. The alchohol simply freed up his true self. Sorry if I hurt your feelings, but to be honest, most of the time your comments are off topic anyway.

Posted by: Rachaelcre8f8 | March 30, 2007 09:04 PM

An interesting piece. wpaul-kathymiller probably hit the nail on the head. Managing one's anger can be a problem -- not situational anger, but embedded anger. It takes lots of energy and effort, and its a full-time job.

Posted by: twilight5 | March 31, 2007 08:26 AM

I read, with interest, the comments of Sheila Tate. As I recall, Sheila was a great asset to the Powell-Tate component of the Cassidy Companies. She was a valuable part of the organization. I have to say, however, that I was a little stumped by her comments about the "munchkins".

Cassidy Cos. had good and bad munchkins in the past, just as now. Let us not forget that that many of those munchkins planned a large number of those "brilliant strategies"--and helped get Cassidy off the ground, plugged into the right people on the Hill and on a trajectory to accomplish the things for which it became known. In fact, some of those munchkins were damn good employees that Cassidy hired, early on -- to his credit (I am not one of them).

Munchkins have roles in any endeavor. Munchkins fill seats on airplanes so revenues can flow. Without them, the planes would be on the ground. Naturally, all munchkins cannot fly the plane, but they do have their places in airplanes AND companies. One of the latter-day problems at Cassidy was that too many munchkins wanted to be pilots -- and they were not qualified to fly -- but that's an aside. The important point here is that many of those munchkins were damn valuable people, and Cassidy is NOT too bullheaded to know that. While he cannot say it right now because he is caught in the 'spin' cycle, he knows that when the sun goes down at the end of the day, he had some great employees who busted their butts for him out of loyalty to, and pride in, the organization -- and him as their boss. In short, they made the cash register ring.

The long and the short of this saga is that this firm began with a great concept, lived a great life as a boutique entity (with proud and devoted employees), grew and got healthy, and then began to lead a little bit of a reckless life, taking too many chances. Then it got out of its league and in over its head, in a business sense. Grandiosity began to run wild, with significant, negative impacts. When the 'grandiosity storm' had run its course, and the rebuilding commenced, the "commoditization" of the game set in (like in the retail arena with K-Mart, etc.) -- much like what was beginning to take place in the political arena on the Hill. Commoditized retailing -- a need for volume, reduced prices, less attention to the customers and a lesser product in the end. Unfortunately, as in the wake of many 'storms', individual lives were damaged, also.

In summary, time shakes out everything -- including facts, images, phoniess, spin and all else appended to this type of story. In the grand scheme of things, ALL the players are just 'bit players', living in a brief span of time, and in no way destined for the history books or Mt. Rushmore. So -- it's OK to let your breath out, get out of the delusional mindsets and remember, this is not "Deal or No Deal". Get back to what made the place what it was at the outset -- and maybe lead this business out of the wilderness.

Posted by: glidepath1 | March 31, 2007 09:05 AM

Interesting comments from Sheila. I knew some of those munchkins and most were good workers. Additionally, I seem to recall that Sheila had some gripes of her own in the latter part of her tenure.

As to her comments about Fabiani and his escapades (and I do not defend him), these comments are clearly a 'swipe' at him (again, I cannot defend him) on behalf of his 'ex' -- who is a close friend of Tate, and also a good friend of Mrs. Cassidy (who is a fine woman). That should help the context for some of the comments. That said, Sheila Tate is also a fine individual.

Posted by: mollys | March 31, 2007 12:44 PM

The manifestation of an unvarnished truth finally emerging must surely present itself like the beauty of a rose in the garden of heaven. Surely those people who have the strength of character to foster that emerging truth must know, in the end, that they have a special place in that garden. My thanks to Mr. Kaiser and all those others who, after numerous obstacles, helped get the truth told.

Mrs. C. Frank Godfrey

Posted by: coletteg | March 31, 2007 03:44 PM

Dear Mrs. Godfrey,
I have been reading this series very closely with much personal interest. I thank you for posting your personal thought today.

G-d Bless and best wishes

Posted by: elenalouise | March 31, 2007 07:09 PM

I just read the comments, posted at the top of Chapter 20. Each of these people, the 'lambs', griped more than once in the past about the firm, some frequently. One even brought a labor lawyer (on behalf of himself) to a meeting with the boss -- which did not go over well. I will stay mute on the reason for the lawyer.

As is common in the organization, these people were likely asked to sign this piece, or maybe 'volunteered' in a 'nuzzling fashion. Curiously, one of the signatories was also asked to sign the statement about the "fundraiser incident" noted in the article, and prepared by the firm lawyers -- and then shopped around after the incident. He signed it -- even though he was an eyewitness to the incident. What does that tell you? This statement refutes nothing, and might be expected -- like the character witness statement brought forth by an atty.

As to the fundraiser where the Godfrey incident took place, I was not there. However, I know enough about the 'components' of the circumstance to know that the settlement agreement was not a severance payment, though it was probably entered on the books, as such, for business/tax purposes. It was a settlement in the matter of the 'incident' -- and all those inside the walls of 700-13th St, NW knew it at the time.

Mr. Cassidy is not a bad guy all the time; he's just one Gerry on one day, and one Gerry on another. But the kids don't know which one is which each day so they have learned to try to "please" on a consistent basis and, thereby, possibly avoid any wrath. Often, the perpetuator of such an envirnonment is one who wants to be the bride/groom at the wedding, or the corpse at the funeral -- a perpetual trap, irregardless of 'exterior' trappings.

Dysfunction captures hostages, and once a hostage, always a hostage, until either an escape or a rescue -- or an unfortunate demise occurs. Agree or disagree, but that's the way this stuff works.

Posted by: slingshot1 | March 31, 2007 08:13 PM

It's really a shame that after all this time, resources, and cyberspace devoted to this project, all the Post really has to show for it is a long, endless string of hostile, vile comments aimed by all parties at all parties. Is this what the Post thinks civic journalism is, to cause people to hate each other? Maybe next time they'll spend all this energy on something more productive for the political process.

Posted by: RotoBlue | March 31, 2007 09:03 PM

I have been reading Bob Kaiser's series on Gerry Cassidy very closely for two reasons. One is that I have known Gerry and Loretta Cassidy for over 20 years. For 12 of those years, I was his second closest confident -- the first of course being Loretta. I was his personal assistant those 12 years and anyone that worked with us or knew Gerry and Loretta, knew that Gerry shared things with me that, except for Loretta, he didn't share with anyone else, so it's safe to say that I really do know Gerry.

The second reason I have followed this series closely is because I, too, am one of the hundreds of people Bob Kaiser talked to . And, when Bob Kaiser told me how much he had come to admire and like Gerry Cassidy, I wondered if that was just reporter talk, trying to ply information out of me by instilling trust, or if he was really being honest. So I knew I had to read the series to find out. And now I know. It was reporter talk. Funny that I disputed a few of the "facts" he ran by me and I haven't seen any comments that don't support the angle Bob is looking to achieve represented at all.

I not only don't recognize the Gerry Cassidy Bob describes, I also don't recognize the Jim Fabiani or any of the other "close associates" he quotes -- all of whom left the firm after Gerry Cassidy made them millions of dollars from stock options he generously gave them over the years.

And let me tell you that I can speak just as well about Gerry as I can Jim Fabiani and many of the others Bob talks about, because, knowing how much Gerry trusted me and my judgment, they all at one time or another came to me asking my advice or seeking to find out how Gerry felt about something they did or said and hoping I would represent them favorably to Gerry.

It galls me even more that Bob paints Gerry as a money hungry, shady lobbyist.. Gerry is the most honorable person I have ever met. If just one-tenth of the lobbists in Washington had one-tenth of his integrity, lobbying would be the cleanest business ever.

Gerry Cassidy had a vision for a new way of doing business to allow the greater good of the American people to win over the good of the Ivy League elitist Universities. It is through his vision that non-profits, hospitals and universities throughout the country with faculty and science and research staff and resources to cure many of the "unpopular" diseases of the time such as Pediatric AIDS, cancer and emergency preparedness were able to receive the necessary funding to help the hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans who needed those resources and cures. That this spawned an entire industry is only a testament to his intelligence, kindness and vision.

And along the way, yes, he did make money. But he gave away more than he kept for himself. The ESOP plan that Bob Kaiser describes as shady and designed to leave Gerry with millions of dollars actually created an opportunity for Gerry to reward his staff by dividing the majority of the proceeds he received to the company's employees making millionaires several times over of Jim Fabiani, Vince Versage, Frank Godfrey and others. That was Gerry's M.O. -- sharing and rewarding others.

As a side note, I must add that when I left the firm in 1999 it had been several years since Gerry Cassidy was responsible for reviewing the Lobbying Reports before they were submitted to Congress -- it was Jim Fabiani's responsibility.

Diane Schneider
Cassidy & Associates 1987-1999

Posted by: dischneider1021 | April 1, 2007 12:42 AM

Whoa -- "unpopular" diseases. A sore throat is unpopular, but I get your point. I don't know whether or not these "visions" were linked to emergency preparedness or not since I was not there. I am beginning to see, however, where this kool-aid that was drunk was certainly addictive, maybe even toxic.

Posted by: twilight5 | April 1, 2007 09:27 AM

Isn't it a shame sainthood isn't awarded until after death, Diane? Why don't you forward your comments to the Pulitzer folks. After all, the one man in America who knew which universities deserved research funds for the greater good deserves something more than mere money for his good works.

And why DID all those crazy former associates leave the golden goose who made them "millionaires several times over"? You'd like the readers to think "disgruntled" equates to incapable of truth telling. The reality, unfortunately, is just the opposite. You might find a clue to the answer of the exodus question, however, in the behavior exhibited toward Frank Godfrey. Only an arrogant, shameless, self-serving bully would humiliate and assault an employee in public, then claim he fired him, and then have the unmitigated insensitivity to show up at his funeral and his home and not speak to the widow until he was chased down. That kind of behavior was not an aberration. Sometimes the best way to deal with someone like that is to just walk away.

Your "vision" of this man would make me laugh if there was one thing amusing about him or his "M.O." It's a pity this is the most honorable man you have ever met. You might want to consider spending some time in the real world where humility, character, and honesty are the mark of an honorable man.

Posted by: MaryZ | April 1, 2007 12:33 PM

Glidepath, it's too bad this story doesn't (maybe not yet) point out that Cassidy has been focused recently on what you say -- leading the business out of the wilderness. Public disclosure of lobbying activities is the key here, and Cassidy is the only lobbyist in town talking about that (cf the Hill and Roll Call stories from last month).

And MaryZ, I'm not sure what your investment is but have you noticed that the people who show up here on the comments who are putting their real names to their posts are former Cassidy people? Not so sure about the Cassidy haters. So kudos to them for that disclosure, even though they don't have to.

Posted by: sportsfan | April 1, 2007 08:46 PM

Sportsfan, I find it somewhat amusing that you are pointing out that several employee's have signed their real names. Sportsfan....is that German or English in origin? Hmmm, unless of course that is a fake name (insert shocked expression here). You have clearly been a Cassidy supporter, why not sign your real name? At least Mary signed her first name. I can't speak for Mary's "investment" but mine stems from a deep concern for the very foundation of our Democracy and a strong belife in the notion of fair play.

I notice that you had very little of substance to say about the assault on Mr. Godfrey. I am not sure about how you handle your anger, but what Gerry Cassidy did is not a minor incident. What I found especially disgusting about his behavior, is that Mr. Godfrey did nothing intentional to harm Gerry, but Gerry thought he had messed up a business deal. That is a reason to assault someone, because you think they made a mistake at work? All I can say is, Gerry Cassidy is lucky he didn't end up in jail.

What is your "investment" Sportsfan?

Posted by: Rachaelcre8f8 | April 1, 2007 09:25 PM

Me? I'm a Post reader. I had never heard of Cassidy before this series. I care about the newspaper and I care about journalism. I don't like haters. You and Todd are obvious axe-grinders, to say the least...

Posted by: sportsfan | April 2, 2007 06:38 AM

And while we're being suspicious and all Rachael, how is it you seem to know that "rosebudsnowglobe" is a "her" and not a "him"? Hmm?

Posted by: sportsfan | April 2, 2007 08:47 AM

My bad "sportsfan", I guess rosebudsnowglobe could be a guy. Rosebud sounds more feminine to me, but I was making an assumption. Sort of like I assume you are a guy, but maybe you are a woman. Not quite sure it matters, but whatever floats your boat. Not my business what your gender is or is not.

Posted by: Rachaelcre8f8 | April 2, 2007 01:38 PM

@John2.Bravo - I like your quippy comments. You wouldn't happen to know someone by the last name McNab would you? Maybe have some Lamb's Navy Rum sitting around?

Posted by: mynameiscarland | April 2, 2007 02:28 PM

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