William Harla, a law partner at Decotiis, Fitzpatrick, Cole & Wisler, LLP, of Teaneck, a real powerhouse Democrat-leaning law firm in New Jersey, was one of the top fund-raisers for Senator Hillary Clinton here in the Garden State, during this just-completed Presidential nomination cycle.
Last fall, Wally Edge on Politickernj identified Billy as a core member of The Group, a heavy weight caboodle of Hillary Clinton finance operators here in New Jersey, who spearheaded an operation of 75 fund-raisers to raise at least one million dollars "at a December 12 event at the State Theater in New Brunswick."
A former Deputy Attorney General with a real talent for key appellate work, Harla moved from the A.G.'s Office into the Counsel's Office way back in the Florio Administration. He was the Deputy Chief Counsel to Florio, when Christie Todd Whitman surprised the State, and was elected Governor back in 1993, thus denying the tax-happy Florio a second term. Harla left State service early in '94, and went into private practice. In the interim, Bill has pretty much been a fixture at Decotiis, where he is a managing partner in the Teaneck office, representing a variety of clients as a lobbyist.
This past week, in partial recognition of his significant fundraising prowess on behalf of Hillary Clinton during the year, he was invited to personally attend the event on Tuesday evening in New York, the one where Hillary delivered her defiant I ain't going nowhere . . . at least tonight speech.
As were the other attendees, Harla was reportedly told ahead of time that he could bring one guest with him. Apparently viewing it at least in part as a business opportunity, he asked friend and law partner, Wayne Hasenbalg. Wayne was a former Chief of Staff to former New Jersey Attorney General, Cary Edwards, way back at the end of the Kean Administration. In fact, he may have had something to do with the recognition of Harla's work as a DAG, way back in the day. But in the interim, Hasenbalg has played, among other roles, a Republican partner in the lobbying firm State Street Partners, which was a hot ticket lobbying firm during the brief McGreevey heyday. He left there early this past December, according to ELEC filings, and has since joined Decotiis.
But I digress!
So, the other night, there they were -- Harla and Hasenbalg -- attending Hillary Clinton's expected swansong. Like any good attorneys, they were busy working the room, when they somehow became engaged in a conversation with a gal who was also "networking" in earnest. At one point during the brief conversation, she apparently introduced her guest for the evening to Harla and Halsenbalg.
"I'd like you to meet my partner, [name]," she said, introducing Harla and Halsenbalg to another woman, who was attending the event with her.
Smiles all around.
Bill Harla then reciprocated, saying, "And, I'd like you to meet my partner, Wayne Hasenbalg."
There was reportedly a moment of silence at that point, when the gal reportedly sought further clarification.
"Life partner?" she asked.
Another brief moment of silence.
"Uhhh , no, business partner," Harla meekly offered. The light was beginning to shine.
In spite of a mutual agreement that the story would stay with them, by the next morning, the incident had somehow gotten back to senior partner, Al Decotiis. Harla has since told a few friends that Al stuck his head briefly in Harla's office, smiled and said, "Morning, partner!"
* Spelling of Decotiis corrected throughout. We regret the error.