Marks believes that ad, which was paid for by an independent group, helped swing Florida to Bush. "That ad received so much attention and got a lot of TV airplay," he says. "I hope that maybe it did move that many votes in Florida."
Marks also resurrected the infamous Willie Horton ad when he was working for then-Massachusetts Gov. William Weld in his 1998 race for John Kerry's Senate seat. Back in 1992, Kerry, as a private attorney, had secured the early parole of a career criminal, George Reissfelder, who had pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of a police officer in Florida. After he was paroled, Reissfelder got involved with a Mafia-controlled drug ring in Boston and was questioned by the police regarding the Gardner Museum heist, the biggest museum robbery in U.S. history.
Marks' ad featured Reissfelder's picture morphing into a photo of Willie Horton.
But the episode ended up starting to prick at Marks' conscience -- he received death threats from Reissfelder's relatives. And he got a phone call from Reissfelder's niece, telling him that she never knew about her uncle's history of crime. "Unfortunately, good people are sometimes related to people who do bad things and these good people sometimes get hurt in the process."
Back in 2001, Marks worked for Jack Abramoff's partner, Michael Scanlon. Among his tasks was to fly to the New Orleans airport, pick up a Fed Ex package full of hundreds of envelopes and mail them from the airport post office. Marks took a peek into one of the envelopes and found that they contained fliers promoting a preferred candidate, "Poncho," for the presidency of an Indian tribe, Louisiana's Couchatta tribe.
The tribe was one of the scandal-tarred lobbyist's clients, and Marks figured that by interfering in the tribal election and getting their man in control of millions of dollars in casino profits, Abramoff and Scanlon would reap plenty of money in lobbying fees.
Another of Marks' tasks for Scanlon involved researching Gus Boulis, the owner of SunCruz, a casino boat chain in Florida, who had backed out of a deal to sell his business to the lobbyist duo. Marks' assignment was interrupted when he was awakened in the middle of the night and told by his client to "Get the hell out of Dodge." Earlier that day, Boulis had been gunned down -- killed by mobsters. Because his name appeared on countless requests to research court documents involving Boulis, Marks ended up being questioned by Fort Lauderdale police.
Now, Marks realized that "I was merely a pawn helping bad guys break the law."
Marks relishes telling stories about his wild romantic life as a borderline sex addict; on a routine trip to the Texas state comptroller's office to do research in 2002, he had sex with a young assistant in the meeting room. "Despite knowing intellectually that using women sexually was morally wrong, I couldn't control myself."
Maybe it was a case of bad karma, but Marks ended getting a taste of his own bitter medicine when one of his numerous lovers went psychotic, obtaining his cell phone records and calling every number on the list, telling everyone that Marks was an ax murderer, pedophile and other "outrageous accusations."
One of his friends had to get police protection after the ex-lover showed up unannounced and Marks ended up filing an FBI report to stop the harassment.
Some of Marks' tactics were even considered too dirty for some of the candidates he was helping.