He’s along for a float with Martin O’Malley

April 12, 2015 - accent chair

— It’s late on a Saturday morning, and Martin O’Malley is introducing himself to a few dozen Democrats in a groundwork of a county building in a nation’s initial presidential congress state.

A splay male in his late 60s paces in a back. He sips coffee. He munches on fruit snacks. He chats adult a few people. But he isn’t creation introductions, or ensuring that a former Maryland administrator sticks to his schedule.

John P. Coale, it turns out, is only along for a float — a float that he provided.

A retired, once-flamboyant hearing counsel who done millions off a tobacco wars of a 1990s, Coale is regulating his private jet to packet O’Malley around early nominating states as the still mostly opposite Democrat weighs “I speculation I’m a friend,” John Coale pronounced in an interview. “You know, many of these guys have a friend. Some people call it a adult on a plane. . . . we countenance him. There’s no miss of recommendation from others.” (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Coale likes to assistance his friends. He has an heterogeneous set of them, both inside politics and out, some of whom he met by his wife, Fox News horde Greta Van Susteren.

Since a mid-1990s, according to debate financial records, Coale has donated some-more than $750,000 to domestic possibilities and committees, many of them Democratic. But he has also full around with Republican Sarah Palin. He attended Kim Kardashian’s matrimony and represented Lisa Marie Presley in her divorce from Michael Jackson, behind when Presley was dependent with a Church of Scientology, where Coale and Van Susteren have been distinguished members for years.

Coale upheld his crony John McCain, a Republican, in a 2008 presidential election. But during a primaries, he was a vital upholder of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom he also considers a friend.

Coale was tighten adequate to a Clintons that he spent during slightest partial of a day of a essential 2008 New Hampshire primary with them in their hotel suite. Siding with O’Malley this time — when Clinton is the strenuous Democratic favorite — was a calculation formed on personal ties.

“I’m committed to Martin,” pronounced Coale, who speaks bluntly and with a snippet of a accent of his home city of Baltimore. “He’s a improved friend. I’ve famous him longer and better.”

Through a years, O’Malley has perceived some-more than $77,000 in donations from Coale, including in-kind contributions, as good as a $500,000 loan during a final make-or-break tie of his domestic career.

The dual met about 15 years ago, shortly after O’Malley became Baltimore’s mayor. They were introduced by C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a congressman from a area and a companionship hermit of Coale’s during a University of Maryland.

John Coale with mother Greta Van Susteren and friends Sarah and Todd Palin during a brunch during a 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner weekend. Coale got to know a Palins while concomitant his mother on a stating outing in 2008. (Kyle Gustafson)

At a time, Coale was a fable among hearing lawyers, famous for his assertive bureau of category movement clients and his eagerness to take on corporate giants. Besides a tobacco companies, his targets enclosed Union Carbide in a issue of a 1984 gas trickle in Bhopal, India, that killed thousands; and Imperial Foods, after a lethal 1991 glow during a company’s duck plant in North Carolina. He infrequently picked cases that upheld a Scientology agenda, including a array of lawsuits directed during a builder and prescribers of Ritalin, a drug widely used to provide courtesy necessity hyperactivity commotion in children.

In buttoned-down Washington, Coale and Van Susteren frequency plead their tie with Scientology, a argumentative sacrament that opposes psychiatry, preferring devout recovering as an alternative. Coale pronounced that his eremite beliefs don’t expostulate his politics and that O’Malley “didn’t seem to give a hell” when he told him about it several years ago.

At their initial lunch meeting, Coale and O’Malley strike it off, articulate about Johnny Unitas and a Baltimore Colts. Their loyalty endured, Coale said, in immeasurable partial given he doesn’t wish anything from O’Malley, who like many politicians is mostly surrounded by people Coale describes as “on a make.”

“I don’t wish a job. we do not wish to be envoy to anything,” Coale said. “There’s zero — solely maybe a state cooking or two.”

And so he tags along on a trail, customarily wearing gray slacks and a light-blue oxford shirt with a navy blazer or a navy sweater.

“There is zero about him that suggests he’s a man with a yacht or a TV-star wife,” pronounced Ivan A. Schlager, a Washington counsel who has famous Coale for decades. “He’s only a good guy.”

Coale and O’Malley suffer an easy rapport, articulate on their flights about how things are going, rather than focusing on process issues. Coale, who tends to ramble a room when O’Malley speaks, provides comprehension on what he overhears. And they giggle a lot, mostly about tiny things, such as a “wild socks” an O’Malley confidant wore on one flight.

“I speculation I’m a friend,” Coale said. “You know, many of these guys have a friend. Some people call it a adult on a plane. . . . we countenance him. There’s no miss of recommendation from others.”

In 2006, O’Malley was regulating for administrator opposite a Republican incumbent, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., in what stays Maryland’s many costly governor’s race. He indispensable a late distillate of cash, so Coale ponied adult $500,000.

O’Malley won, and Coale was shortly invited to a tiny cooking celebration during a governor’s mansion. When he arrived, he was confronted by Scout, a terrier a initial family had adopted from a shelter.

“That dog comes out of nowhere and jumps adult and bites me right on a ass,” Coale said. “It indeed hurt.”

Scout was eventually banished, after snapping one of O’Malley’s sons on a face. The governor’s loyalty with Coale continued.

Coale says his mindfulness with campaigns is not many opposite from that of a sports fanatic. “If you’re a large football fan, and one deteriorate we get a possibility to hang out with a manager of a Packers or something, and a subsequent deteriorate it’s a Patriots or whatever, you’re going to do that,” he said.

More than a decade ago, Coale poured his appetite into perplexing to assistance another Democrat, John F. Kerry, get inaugurated president, reaching out to his immeasurable array of contacts to lift money.

That’s not a purpose that Coale expects to play for O’Malley. Now 68 and opposed some health problems, he’s holding a some-more loose approach. For a past dual years, Coale has successfully battled throat cancer. This week, he’s scheduled for open-heart surgery, an “overhaul” that Coale says should keep him off a route for a month or so though leave him feeling improved than he does now.

He’s happy to lend his craft and deliver O’Malley to some of his successful friends — they had lunch a other day with historian Douglas Brinkley. But Coale’s days of removing on a phone to try to remonstrate other people to give income are mostly over.

“I hatred it,” he pronounced of lifting money. “What we can do to assistance my crony is fine, though I’m not going to go out and crash on doors or get on a phone that much.”

During O’Malley’s dual campaigns for governor, Coale contributed $4,000, a limit authorised underneath state law. And as O’Malley has pointed toward a White House bid, Coale has given $15,000 to his domestic movement committee, creation him one of a incomparable donors.

But Coale’s biggest grant has been a use of his six-seater Falcon 100. Between Oct 2013 and a finish of 2014, O’Malley reported 18 craft trips valued during some-more than $54,000. There have been several some-more this year.

Federal law does not shorten a volume a donor might give to O’Malley’s PAC, and a giveaway craft rides are deliberate in-kind contributions. If and when O’Malley rigourously becomes a presidential claimant — he has pronounced he expects to confirm by late May — a manners will change: O’Malley’s debate will have to repay Coale for any flights, during a aloft rate.

In late February, Coale flew O’Malley and his aides to a entertainment of South Carolina Democrats in Myrtle Beach. The craft was on avocation in Mar for trips to Iowa and New Hampshire. On Wednesday night, it ferried O’Malley behind to Iowa.

Last month in Davenport, Iowa, Coale hovered tighten to O’Malley during a pre-dinner cocktail accepting as internal Democrats sought to accommodate their guest speaker. Coale chatted with those who were watchful and was accessible to keep a review going when O’Malley changed on to someone else.

“Hey John, have we met a mayor?” O’Malley called in Coale’s instruction during one point, handing off Davenport’s plain leader, Bill Gluba.

The subsequent evening, 300 miles divided in Council Bluffs, Coale bumped into a informed face: Iowa’s Democratic Party chair, Andy McGuire. “We accommodate again,” she pronounced to Coale. “It seems like we spend each night together.”

O’Malley, who’s had a side career as a musician, motionless to play a strain for a throng in Council Bluffs, regulating a borrowed guitar. “John Coale, come on close,” he yelled out, enlisting his friend’s assistance to pierce people forward.

Coale says he is improved positioned to plead some issues with O’Malley, 52, than many of O’Malley’s staffers, who are many younger. They have discussed O’Malley’s lapse to Baltimore after 8 years in Annapolis, for example, and a former governor’s preference to locate tighten to his in-laws.

“John Coale is a smart, savvy, mature sounding house for a governor,” pronounced Colm O’Comartun, a former executive executive of a Democratic Governors Association who is tighten to O’Malley, a former DGA chair. “He provides some comfort and fortitude and unequivocally has no bulletin of his own.”

O’Malley pronounced he considers himself “very blessed” by his loyalty with Coale, who he pronounced has been “encouraging in each approach over these final 8 years.”

Coale stopped practicing law after a tobacco windfall, aside from a occasional plan — including representing his mother in agreement negotiations. The integrate common a law use before she launched her radio career and have lived together given 1980. It is her initial matrimony and his third. They are large donors to their church and are active in other philanthropies, handling an institution in Haiti and adopting dual villages in Cambodia.

The integrate possess a home in Clearwater, Fla., where a church has a executive training and shelter center, and they say an unit in New York, a cabin in Vermont and a place in Nantucket, Mass. They spend many of their time in their residences in Washington’s upscale Forest Hills area and in Annapolis, Maryland’s lifelike waterfront capital, where their 80-foot Trumpy yacht is mostly moored.

The five-bedroom red-brick home in a Annapolis ancestral district, that a integrate bought in 2010, is on a marketplace for $1.8 million. Coale pronounced there’s “a small truth” to a speculation that he and Van Susteren saw reduction reason to stay in a collateral once O’Malley had left office.

“I don’t consider I’ll be going to a governor’s house” now that Republican Larry Hogan has changed in, Coale said. “Don’t know Larry. Never met him.”

On ABC’s “This Week” in January, Van Susteren described O’Malley as “the large sleeper candidate” of 2016 but disclosing his loyalty with her father — lifting eyebrows among some journalists. More recently, on her possess show, she done a indicate of revelation viewers about a connection.

While concomitant Van Susteren on a 2008 stating outing to Georgia. Coale got to know Sarah and Todd Palin, who were in city campaigning for a Republican Senate candidate. Coale schooled that a Palins were deeply in debt associated to authorised investigations in Alaska and helped Sarah Palin set adult a domestic movement cabinet to residence it.

He spoke about a PAC with another pal, New York Post report columnist Cindy Adams, who soon mentioned a account in her column. “Like, within 3 days,” Coale said, $400,000 was donated.

Coale pronounced O’Malley hasn’t always been anxious by his choice of allegiances, quite when Coale upheld McCain in 2008 after Clinton mislaid a Democratic assignment to Barack Obama. During a 2012 presidential race, Coale spent time on a debate train of Republican Herman Cain. “It was a hoot,” he said. “The guy’s funny.”

Asked about Coale’s other friends, O’Malley fell behind on a line he mostly uses in other contexts: “I consider he’s a tolerant man who understands we’re all in this together.”

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