Anna Foster adjusted the photograph of her husband and children and sighed. As the first woman and first black Chief Counsel for BigCorp, she was used to tricky situations but this was ridiculous.
"So why don't you lay the whole scenario out for me" said, Richard "Rick" Sanchez, her lead outside counsel and Partner with Smith, Jones and Lopez, the white shoe New York firm that handled most of Bigcorp's legal issues.
"Well you remember the Bill Winton case? You know, the guy that was Director of Contracting who was caught sexually harassing and abusing women employees, interns and contractors?"
"Yeah, ugly case. But I though he'd left the company at the end of that year and then was convicted of perjury in connection with one of the civil cases that he got hit with, right?"
"Right. Well this is about his wife, Hillary. She was a Contract Administration Manager underneath him during that time - I don't know why she didn't divorce him, Lord knows I would have."
"Go on", Rick said cautiously.
"Well anyway she was a top performer and the CFO really like her. So when Bill took the package he wanted to elevate her to the top job in contracting. Fortunately we talked him out of it because besides the bad optics, she didn't have the requisite legal training - we've always required the person in that role to be a trained lawyer due to the tricky contract interpretation and negotiations needed."
"Yeah that makes sense, you put that fast track guy Barry wosisname into that role"
Anna nodded "Yeah because Hillary cut a deal with the CFO. If she would go get her law degree, then when she was done, Barry would go on to some International assignment and she could slide right into the Director slot. Now there was no formal promise but it was understood so long that she did well at school, she'd be top dog. And crucially it was known publicly."
"So how'd she do?" Rick sighed, absentmindedly flicking imaginary lint off of his knee.
"She did great but it's what she did after school hours that's at issue."
"Whaddya mean 'after school hours'? Did she have a part time job?", Rick leaned forward.
Anna sighed "Well sort of. You see once she got to Yale some of our largest contracting partners - vendors, customers, distributors started wining and dining her and her husband. And - evidently this was her or Bill's idea - they began inviting one or both of them to their offsite meetings at resorts, providing all expense paid trips for them."
"Hmmm, I don't like where this is going."
"Well it gets worse. They'd go to these events - during the week when Hillary had class, Bill would go - and they would be asked to give a few remarks to the 'troops' of these companies about 'contracting'. And here's the kicker: they were paid between $2,500 and $3,500 dollars "Honorarium" for their talk.
"Wow, five to seven grand an hour? I'm going to have to raise my rates." Sanchez exclaimed. "So of course you didn't rehire her, did you?"
Anna got out of her chair and walked over to the window, she turned and said "we did rehire her. As a matter of fact she's now our new Director of Contracting"
"Where did Barry go?"
"He's doing some make work thing over in the Golf Products division, you know these fast trackers".
"Don't I though. So you're telling me that the CFO rehired her and put her in the Director's job even after all of the payments and luxury vacations companies gave her? How much money are we talking about here?"
"At least $400 grand and possibly much more and that doesn't include the freebies".
"Holy cow!!" The woman who took upwards of a million dollars in payments and vacations from.....how many companies took her up on this?"
"Well over a hundred - all of them major hundred million dollar and above contracting parties with BigCorp. Every single company with a billion dollar annual relationship had her speak, some of them two or three times."
"What did she say to them"
Anna's brow wrinkled: "She won't say, she says they are private meetings and are none of our business". But it gets even worse."
"How could that be possible?"
"You remember Bill, her husband and first Bigcorp executive ever convicted of a felony for actions he took while in office?"
"well she's 'hired' Bill as her co-Director. We're not paying him of course and we don't want him in the building for obvious reasons but she has him travelling to all the major contracting players - you know the ones that bribed them - doing what she's calling 'partner outreach and relations'."
"You mean shaking them down for more?" Rick questioned with a shocked look.
"No, not likely. That would be illegal rather than just incredibly sleazy, I think what he's doing is gathering requested favors that they owe these companies for the consideration they've already received." "But I can't prove that", she added.
"OH. MY. GOD what a mess"
"Your'e telling me, I'm thinking of resigning in protest" Anna said quietly.
"What? give up the job you've worked your whole life to achieve?"
"Yeah. But I achieved everything I've got by playing by the rules and if BigCorp is going to be run by people like this I don't want to be a part of it. Because it's inevitable that an organization that would knowingly tolerate this kind of corruption has got to be riddled with many other criminal activities.
I've gotten wind of some but I don't have the resources or the political position to hold all of these......these...Gangsters accountable. I hope I can count on you as a reference?"
"Sure, although after I tell our managing committee about this, my job may be on the line because there's no way we can afford to do work for such a corrupt institution."
"I understand completely"
After what seemed like an eternity of silence Rick stood up and said brightly: "Well" I think I'm going to go get drunk, care to join me?"
"No I'll stay here. Happy drunking."
Anna sat back down in her chair and toyed with her family's pictures again. She had given her life to Bigcorp and now it was all turning into a corrupt lie. She brushed away tears and taking a deep breath called out to her EA to come in to review her resignation letter.