According to his official campaign bio, Montana Republican gubernatorial candidate Neil Livingstone has, at various points during his illustrious career as a Washington-based security consultant, “dined at gangster clubs in Moscow and in the back rooms of Georgian and Uzbek restaurants with members of the Russian Mafia”; “been stalked by terrorists and Nazis in Argentina”; “been paid in stacks of $100 bills by clients”; and held “a business meeting with a six-and-half foot tall pink-eyed albino dressed in white from head-to-foot in a Miami-area motel with the peculiar distinction of having more ‘floaters’ in its pool than any other hospitality establishment in the U.S.”
But it was the line about spending time aboard a pirate ship filled with hookers during the Monte Carlo Grand Prix that landed him in a spot of political trouble. In March, local blogger Montana Cowgirl got wind of the flooze cruise, and it quickly went national. Livingstone purged the item from his bio and attempted damage control, explaining to an Associated Press reporter that his wife had accompanied him and, anyway, he was on official business. When in Monte Carlo, right?
Livingstone, 65, probably won’t be Montana’s next governor. In head-to-head match ups, he trails GOP front-runner Rick Hill, a former congressman, and likely Democratic nominee Steve Bullock. And he has struggled to raise money. But his long-shot candidacy to replace term-limited Democrat Brian Schweitzer has drawn attention because of his less-than-orthodox past.
A ubiquitous presence on the DC scene, Livingstone has made his share of cameos in newspaper stories about spook-filled rooms. The Washington Post once described his style—crisply tailored suit, Turkish worry beads, three gold rings—as “more invented than real, like a character in an Arnaud de Borchgrave novel.” In 2005, Roll Call dubbed Livingstone “Deep Mouth,” after it was alleged that he had dined at Dupont Circle’s Palm steakhouse 88 times in a 57-day period. (Livingstone denied the charge, telling the paper that he eats there only about 15 times a month.)
Although he’s spent much of his life with an inside-the-Beltway mailing address, Livingstone boasts deep Montana roots. He grew up in Helena, where as a high school student he once made $200,000 selling a coin collection he’d picked up for a bargain at an estate sale. With the proceeds, he bought a Ferrari. Livingstone moved east for college at William & Mary, worked as a mostly anonymous Capitol Hill staffer for a few years under Sen. Stuart Symington (D-Mo.) and moved back to Missoula with his wife to get his master’s degree in political science. Then he returned to Washington, where, after a second stint on the Hill, he got a job in the mid-1970s as the vice president of Air America, the CIA-owned airline that played a critical role in the agency’s covert anti-communist operations in Laos and elsewhere. He later purchased, with four partners, Air Panama, and from there he moved to stints at various security companies.
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