During Day 1, a political scandal broke out surrounding Keith Palmer's alleged murder of Lyle Gibson. Keith's father, Senator David Palmer, was running for the Democratic Party nomination at the time this scandal broke out. A collective of businessmen responsible for much of the funding of the David Palmer presidential campaign—known as the Latham Group—feared this scandal would ruin Palmer's chances of becoming president. They went so far as to commit blackmail and murder in order to cover it up. Palmer, however, eventually came forward with the truth himself and exposed the conspirators.
Before Day 1
Lyle Gibson's death and its cover-up
Seven years before Day 1 in Baltimore, Maryland; Nicole Palmer was raped by Lyle Gibson, the 19-year-old son of attorney Franklin Gibson. That night, after hearing about what had happened, Nicole's brother, Keith, went to Gibson's apartment at Harbor Towers and confronted him. This confrontation escalated into a scuffle when Gibson pulled a knife on him; during the ensuing struggle, Gibson was thrown off the apartment balcony and fell to his death. An hour later, Keith went to an emergency room a block away and was treated for minor cuts and scratches.
Keith then went to his mother and told her what happened. Fearing that this information would have dire consequences for her husband's career, Sherry Palmer put her son in contact with Carl Webb. Webb was able to alter the hospital records and make it appear as if a boy named "Edward Johnson" was there in place of Keith. Gibson's death was eventually ruled as a suicide by the police, and Sherry, Keith, and Nicole agreed to keep this from David, who was out of town at the time. Some time after the incident, Keith confessed to his therapist, George Ferragamo, about being involved in Gibson's death.
Blowing the whistle
Some time before Day 1, the Committee to Elect Hodges made a wire transfer of $750,000 to Ferragamo's bank account. Not long afterward, he came forward with Keith's confession to CNB reporter Maureen Kingsley. Kingsley learned that an hour after Lyle Gibson's death, an African American teenage boy was spotted at an emergency room just a block away from Gibson's apartment. Kingsley obtained the hospital's records from that night, and after having them analyzed by an expert, she discovered that the signature of an "Edward Johnson" precisely matched that of Keith Palmer's.
Allegations by Maureen Kingsley
At around 12:44am, David Palmer, now at his campaign headquarters in Los Angeles, California; received a call from Maureen Kingsley, who asked for his response to her allegations. Still unaware of what really happened, Palmer refused to comment on the matter and promptly hung up. He then placed a call to his associate Carl Webb and scheduled a meeting with him at the parking garage of Hotel Rosslyn. At 2:39am, Palmer met with Webb and tasked him with finding and cutting off Kingsley's source; after doing some digging, Webb was able to turn up a name: George Farragamo.
Palmer, however, had a hard time believing Kingsley would ever air false allegations. He met with her at 4:34am in a conference room to hear her out. After viewing her evidence against Keith, Palmer was compelled to confront him about it. He would later ask him what he did after he found out Nicole had been raped; Keith refused to answer the question, saying that he "had no right to ask [him] that." Palmer then realized that his son was in fact involved in Gibson's death and that Webb was the only person who could have covered it up.
Palmer met with Webb again at 5:06am and demanded to know the truth. Webb confirmed that Keith went to confront Gibson following Nicole's being raped and that he only threw him off the balcony in self-defense. Webb also admitted to altering the hospital records. Infuriated, Palmer fired him from his staff. Before he left, Webb told Palmer that Sherry was also involved in the cover-up.
Attempted exposure by David Palmer
After a heated argument with his wife, Palmer sought the counsel of his chief of staff, Mike Novick. Novick insisted that the best course of action would be to come out with the story before Maureen Kingsley could. Palmer then decided to rewrite the speech he would give to various labor leaders later in the morning, much to the disapproval of his family; in it, he would admit to Keith's being involved in the accidental death of Lyle Gibson. Later that morning, Palmer arrived at the Santa Clarita Power Plant, where he was slated to give his speech. At around 7:57am, just as he was about to come forward, Palmer was rushed out of the building by Secret Service due to a gun threat. With Kingsley scheduled to go on the air in less than a half hour, Sherry attempted to get her to back down herself. She offered Kingsley information on the attempted assassination of Palmer in exchange for her dropping the story. Kingsley agreed to sit on the story for the time being.
Murder of George Ferragamo
Several members of the Latham Group (including Frank Ames, Bob Jorgensen, Phil Tuttle, and Carl Webb) convened and discussed what to do about the evidence against Keith, George Ferragamo in particular. Jorgenson or Tuttle told Webb to "get rid of it, permanently." Ames excused himself from the meeting and called David Palmer, warning that Ferragamo's life was in danger.
Some time before 11:43am, Webb started a fire in Ferragamo's office, which killed him and destroyed all of his records. In case Palmer would attempt to expose him, Webb also planted false evidence in the office which, if pointed out to the fire marshals, would pin the murder on Keith.
After several failed attempts to warn him by phone, Palmer decided to meet with Ferragamo personally. However, by the time he arrived at his office building, the place was swarming with emergency workers, and a cloud of smoke was emanating from his of office; he was too late. Against the advice of his chief of staff and wife, Palmer decided to meet with Maureen Kingsley and then the district attorney. Kingsley told him that the hospital records that proved Keith's complicity had been destroyed and that, because of a threat to her life, she had decided to leave the network.
Still determined to get the truth out, Palmer was about to meet with the DA when he saw that Carl Webb was waiting for him. Webb told him that he had planted false evidence in George Ferragamo's office that would link to Keith. In order to protect his son from facing murder charges, Palmer decided to back down.
The smoking gun
When Keith found out that Ferragamo had been murdered, he was furious to learn that his father was doing nothing about it (and was unwilling to disclose why). He decided to take matters into his own hands; at 3:52pm, he met with Carl Webb at the Griffith Park Observatory. He managed to get Webb to admit to planting false evidence that implicated Keith in Ferragamo's murder. Unbeknownst to Webb, Keith was wearing a wire and now had a taped recording of their conversation.
Keith presented this audio recording to his father, who then presented it to Sherry and Mike Novick. Sherry told him to destroy the recording, saying that it would only cause him to lose the party nomination. After receiving consent from his son, who was now willing to accept responsibility for what he has done, Palmer decided to hand the recording over to the DA. He had his campaign manager, Patty Brooks, place it in a safe while he and Mike were in a meeting. Sherry, however, witnessed this and—when no one else was looking—destroyed it. However, this was only a test by David to see if he could trust her; the recording she destroyed was blank, and he kept the real recording with him.
"Super Tuesday Address"
Palmer had Novick set up a press conference in which he would come forward with the truth; he subsequently handed the recording over to the Department of Justice. At 6:33pm, Palmer held the press conference which would later become known as the "Super Tuesday Address"; in which, he admitted to his son's involvement in the accidental death of Lyle Gibson, his family's keeping it from the police, and the Latham Group's murder of George Ferragamo to cover it up.
|“||Last night, I received a phone call regarding my son, Keith, and my daughter, Nicole. That call has unfortunately set off a chain of events that has culminated into a terrible tragedy. Whether or not what I have to say jeopardizes my campaign is for the voters to decide; I'm doing this for my family. A large portion of the financial support for my campaign comes from a group of businessmen right here in Los Angeles. Every single presidential campaign relies on these monetary contributions from a variety of sources. I have apparently misjudged these local businessmen; more importantly, they have misjudged me.
I have already handed this incriminating tape over to the Justice Department. Whether or not it's admissible in court, it will still implicate the men who have been supporting my campaign. I'll emphasize again that these men acted without my consent or my knowledge. As for my son, Keith, he is prepared to turn himself in and face whatever consequences the grand jury deem necessary. He is my son, and I love him, and I will stand by him. I am confident that, when presented with the facts, it will be clear that there was no criminal intent or wrongdoing. He will only be guilty of not reporting an accident. As for my daughter, Nicole, it is important for everyone to remember she was a victim of a horrible crime—a physical and psychological crime. She is not a source of information. This is about a cover-up of an accidental death. This is not about rape. So I am asking you now, as a father, please find your humanity and spare Nicole the indignity of having to relive this nightmare.
Look, I'll say it again; I bear full responsibility for not knowing about it. A senator's duty, a president's duty, an elected representative's duty is not only to his country but also to his family. If he cannot manage the interactions of the people close to him, then he can't expect the electorate to believe in his abilities to lead a nation. I don't deny I made a mistake—a serious one. I only ask you to consider that I am not the first person in public office to make one. Thank you.
In stark contrast to most people's expectations, Palmer's base of support held steady in most areas of the country (and even grew in some others), with many Americans feeling it was easier to relate to a president who was willing to tell the truth. A poll held by CNB revealed that 22% of voters were more likely to vote for Palmer following his coming forward and that 60% of them felt it "made no difference at all."
- Senator David Palmer won all eleven states involved in Super Tuesday, eventually winning the Democratic Party nomination. He and his running mate, James Prescott, would go on to win the general election and was elected President of the United States prior to Day 2.
- With her keeping the truth from him for seven years and attempting to destroy evidence that absolved their son, David Palmer felt he could no longer trust his wife, Sherry. This would escalate when she convinced Patty Brooks to try to become romantically involved with him, and when she put the life of a 16-year-old girl at risk by revealing to the press that he had survived an attempt on his life. During the final hour of Day 1, Palmer decided to file for divorce. In an attempt to get back at him, Sherry would become involved in a political conspiracy eighteen months later.
- With the judge ruling Lyle Gibson's death as an accident, Keith Palmer was exonerated of all charges. He would later become a requested speaker at the college circuit.
- Carl Webb was tried for the murder of George Ferragamo but exonerated on inconclusive evidence. However, he was forced to retire from politics and took up residence in Cancun.
Background information and notes
- It was never revealed what happened to Bob Jorgensen, Phil Tuttle, or the other Latham Group members following the release of the audio recording which implicated them. However, in a deleted scene from "Day 1: 6:00pm-7:00pm", two FBI agents arrive at the Latham Group building to arrest the conspirators.