The death last week at 85 of Abe Hirschfeld, the ex-con real estate mogul, brought forth a torrent of tales, from his penchant for phlegm-tossing (he once zinged late Assembly Speaker Stanley Steingut in the face) to his perennially hapless self-financed political campaigns.
The last time we spoke was in April 2001. Hirschfeld was in the Queens House of Detention, doing time for trying to have his business partner whacked. How was jail for an elderly Jewish businessman? "It is a great experience for me," he burbled in the finest Hirschfeldian nonsense. "There are three species here: black, Oriental, Caucasian. Now, the nicest tree is the palm tree, it is tall and magnificent, it goes against the wind and everything. The strongest animals are in Africa, all the oil that runs the world comes from that region. They are tall, six-foot, seven-foot. They have such great bodies. When you go to the Orientals and the Caucasians, all we have is a pine tree, the fruit is no good. We have pigs and cows, which is why we are all overweight."
This babble came from the man who, just four years earlier, held the Republican line for Manhattan borough president. At the time, Abe was facing charges for a mere $2 million tax evasion, but his money was still good with the GOP. D'Amato protégé and Pataki campaign aide Kieran Mahoney got $136,000 for shaping Hirschfeld's campaign; former Reagan political honcho Ed Rollins scored $90,000. Mayor Rudy Giuliani got a $10,000 Hirschfeld contribution and refused to return it, even after the Daily News's Mark Kriegel revealed that Abe was under investigation in the murder-for-hire plot of which he was later convicted. "Right now, it's an allegation," dismissed Giuliani.
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