The Betrayal

For 30 years, as Vince Fumo ruled Philadelphia politics, we knew how he operated: You were either on his side or he’d try to destroy you. The behind-the-scenes run-up to his federal trial this month reveals something new: His family works in exactly the same way

Meantime, Tasker Street gossip about Nicole and Christian was dark in the extreme. There were two competing theories. One had it that Nicole was a spoiled, pouting, Paris Hilton-type hottie who was exploiting this dumb jock to get back at The Vince. The second theory built on impressions of Christian as a self-inflated ass who exaggerated his past exploits and was in a hurry to run for political office. This theory had it that Christian, seething with humiliation at being Vince’s whipping boy, made himself a bridge between Vince and Nicole, thereby positioning himself to run for office under Vince’s wing. Leverage.

There was also a third theory, not much discussed in FumoWorld: that Nicole and Christian were decent people who genuinely loved each other, and had more in common with each other than with Vince. They were conservative by temperament — Nicole wanted lots of kids, and Christian had been raised as a pro-life Catholic. (One of his brothers, Michael Marrone, is a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.) They were both eager to leave the city and start afresh in a new place. Christian began to think about a future in the GOP, where he could carve out his own political identity.

So in 2002, after Christian and Nicole finished law school and passed the bar, Christian quit his job with Vince and became a prosecutor with the Montgomery County D.A.’s office, working under GOP golden boy Bruce Castor. Nicole went to work as a lawyer in Joe Meo’s firm. That fall, the two moved to Whitemarsh, in Montco — a suburb of leafy streets that had been majority-Republican for decades but was rapidly losing ground to the Democrats. Christian began making the rounds of GOP fund-raisers in a sharp suit, looking every bit the lifelong Republican and making crucial connections to people like GOP power broker Bob Asher, who remembers him as “a guy that you knew was going to move up through the ranks.”

Nicole wasn’t talking to Vince at this point. Christian still was, although the relationship was becoming increasingly strained. Then, in 2003, the wedding fiasco played out, and Nicole and Christian shut off communication definitively. They finally had their clean break.

Or so they thought. What Nicole and Christian did next was a fuck-you to the hardest-core Dem in the state: They ran Nicole for public office, as a Republican — a Fumo with an “R” next to her name. She ran for the board of supervisors in Whitemarsh. Christian and Joe Meo raised $60,000 to elect her and her fellow Republican board candidates, and she lost by about 100 votes. So close. So close. And then they found out that a state committee controlled by Vince had given $1,000 to an opponent … money that could have made all the difference.