Contact: plurk @ LittleIrishBee
Current characters: No current characters in-game
Canon Age: 68
Canon Point: Sic Transit Imperium (Season 2, Episode 9)
Canon Resource Link: Billions Fan Wikia & Official Wikipedia Page
Jack Foley, known fondly as 'Blackjack' in elite circles, is a pre-eminent figure of the Old Guard of Wall Street. Having inherited immense fortunes in railroads and steel as well as having made a huge success being one of the first business tycoons to stake their claims in Russia at the end of the Cold War, his is a name whispered about among those whose ambitions aim high on the political food chain. To those in the know, Jack is the 'Kingmaker'. He has spent decades laying the groundwork to guarantee that nothing of any significance happens in the state of New York without his blessing and has positioned himself to be the hub through which all political and financial tracks must run. As a result he is ideally placed to derail any plans that might run afoul of his own enterprise or make offense to his personal code of ethics.
What little that is known about Jack's private life is that he has a wife by the name of Gillian and that his own children did not share his personal ambitions on the political and financial stage. As such, Jack has been forced to pick his proteges from outside his own lineage. Furthermore, in a phone conversation with Axe, Hall makes reference to the fact that Foley can trace his family line all the way back to William M. Tweed, a politician from the mid-19th century notable as a member of the New York senate and more famously known as the "Boss" of Tammany Hall. It is also significant that, at the height of his power, W.M. Tweed was the third-largest landowner in New York city, having made his money as the director of the Erie Railroad and the Tenth National Bank. This wealth and influence has thenceforth been passed down the family line and now rests in the hands of "Black Jack" Foley. With this inheritance, further compounded by his own shrewd business sense, Jack claims a position at the head of what is referred to as the "Albany Machine," the network of funds and old-money families that have defined the political terrain of New York for generations, hand-picking candidates for high offices and in doing so further entrenching their own personal interests into the very make-up of state legislature.
By the time Jack makes his first appearance in Season 2 he is well ensconced in his position as the 'Kingmaker' of New York. So much so that, at the last minute appeal of Chuck Rhoades Sr. , Jack decimates a plan to build a casino in the town of Sandicot, a project into which billionaire-investment analyst Bobby Axelrod had sunk millions of dollars. Jack's action both dooms the town that had been backing the casino as a last ditch effort to save themselves from financial ruin as well as throws Axe into a ruinous financial trap. Axelrod then begins the hunt for Jack, first trying to shake him out of the shadows through bribery and intimidation. However at every turn he is met with a wall. When Axelrod attempts to coerce Jack's suppliers of steel scrap to hand over all of their stock to him he finds they will not budge for any threat or any price tag. When he tries to strong arm senators and governors for his information he is only met with closed lips, unanswered calls, and locked doors. This is a poignant first for Bobby, the moment where he realizes that somehow these men hold more fear of Jack's reach than they do of his, and his need to find and confront Jack intensifies. The longer Jack remains an enigma, the more Axelroad feels the breath of some unknown threat against the back of his neck.
Meanwhile, Chuck Rhoades Sr. cajoles and wheedles Jack into backing his son, Chuck Rhoades Jr., in the upcoming gubernatorial election. At first Jack concedes but only on the condition that Rhoades Jr. obtain a clerkship for his granddaughter in the office of a prominent New York judge. This is something Jack could easily obtain himself however, as is explained by Rhoades Sr., he desires Rhoades Jr. to do it as a demonstration of fealty. Proof that, in repayment for his help in obtaining the Governor's office, Chuck will remember who it was that got him there in the first place. Rhoades Jr., insulted by the implication of both his father and Jack that he needs a 'kingmaker' to get elected as governor, refuses and in doing so slights Jack. Jack informs Rhoades Sr. that, having been offended by the "bad form" of Chuck's actions, he will now be backing another candidate in the upcoming election. In dismay, Rhoades Sr. scolds his son, and though Chuck leaves this conversation still convinced he can manage being elected without help, it soon becomes clear to him that, in offending Jack Foley, he has now stacked the odds against himself and his only chance to succeed is to render Jack's new candidate inviable and somehow win his way back into Foley's good graces.
It is notable that, despite his immense influence, Jack is practically unknown to the wider public sphere. This is as he intends it. Jack views it as his business to know everyone and to be unknown. Unlike the new generation of men and women on the trading floors and in the investment firms who openly buck horns to show their prowess and to intimidate their challengers, Jack makes no performance to prove his power. He will not be seen standing for applause at widely televised charity balls nor will he openly indulge an opponent in their games of one-upmanship. He will not make a flashy entrance a la the Bobby Axelrod style nor will he publicly throw down a glove before an enemy in the manner of Chuck Rhoades Jr. To do so would unnecessarily risk showing his hand. As the powers that be in New York vie for higher offices and fatter prizes and hope to knock one another off the chess board, Jack has focused his resources on ensuring that it is his board they are playing on.
In fact, for a man who wields such unchecked power over an entire state, Jack strikes a surprisingly humble figure in person. Upon initial encounter, Jack is disarmingly cordial. His voice has touches of a southern drawl, languid and unpretentious. His language, teeming with old-fashioned expressions and peppered with words that have long since dropped out of common usage such as 'knickerbockers', could even be described as 'folksy'. And though there is always an underlying sense of refinement to his posture and his dress even when seen in more casual settings, it rings more as 'old fashioned' or 'of an older generation' than pompous or elite. Jack by presentation is more of an old rooster than a peacock, a grandfather from a more conservative era of collared shirts, waistcoats, and platitudes such as "we both continue to be grateful for the generosity of your spirit."
This is undoubtedly intentional. As pointed out by Chuck Rhoades Sr., 'even when Jack is fucking around he means business,' and as such, for Jack, the devil is in the details, right down to the way he walks, talks, and dresses. No seemingly frivolous anecdote, no silly turn of phrase is used without a specific goal. Therefore, it can be assumed that Jack's 'grandfatherly' persona is yet another weapon in his arsenal, one intended to disarm potential enemies and give a false sense of security through presenting himself as friendly and even potentially vulnerable. If a foolish opponent mistakes him for weak or an easy target, they run the risk of taking a grave misstep of thinking they could go toe-to-toe with Jack Foley, and lay themselves open to ruination at the hands of "all the king's men."
Jack conducts himself and his affairs according to a strict code of conduct, one that is almost chivalric in its emphasis on loyalty, propriety, and respect. He also expects those individuals acting under him to do the same, at least so far as he is concerned. As Jack explains himself:
"I hold to a code of loyalty which very well may be outmoded but has served me well. And to be honest I like the way it makes me feel when I choose sides." [S2,EP8 - 'The Kingmaker']
As can be seen in Jack's swift dismissal of Chuck Rhoades Jr. after his refusal to obtain a clerkship for his granddaughter, Jack does not take this code lightly. He rewards those who show him due respect and uphold their contracts to him meanwhile he is quick to punish or break ties with those who do not. There is very little wiggle room between the two, Jack showing himself to be generally unforgiving when slighted. In this way, Jack's empire is run more like a royal court than a business enterprise. However, Jack's courtiers are kept in the dark. They know not the extent of Jack's kingdom nor the other agents acting within it. Jack deftly manages his network of moving pieces so as to always be many steps removed from any one of them. This way, should one of these 'investments' prove to be a dud, Jack may shake it off like a tree dropping dead leaves. And should an outside agent attempt to prey on one of his proteges as a means of getting to Jack, they will find the trail quickly runs cold with no breadcrumbs leading back to the man pulling the strings. Wags describe this ability of Jack's to be ever present yet ever untouchable as having a "light touch, tight grip."
In summation, while we see power players such as Axelrod and Rhoades strut and preen to impress and intimidate, Jack does not strut. There is nothing flashy or intimidating about Jack Foley in the flesh. And this is the critical difference between them. Where Axelrod and Rhoades must constantly ascertain their positions on the food chain through clawing and fighting to keep whatever power they do have, Jack Foley simply is powerful. His power is well-established, deep-rooted, and unquestioned. Above all things Jack is shrewd and perceptive. However, it would be incorrect to assume that everything about Jack is an act or a 'face' hiding some more malicious figure. Instead, it would be more accurate to say that much of what Jack presents as his key values: family, loyalty, and ambition, are genuine and what he has learned to do is weaponize what would otherwise be potential weaknesses. His age, for example, turns from a possible Achilles heel, to a strength when it is used to mislead, and his family, always an easy target for a man in a position of power, becomes a powerful asset when he sets them up as a shield against attacks on his character. Jack emphasizes himself as 'a family man'. He insists upon his role as father and grandfather, and as such he retains a seemingly squeaky clean reputation despite all of his more questionable, yet seemingly untraceable, dealings.
Abilities: N/A. Jack Foley is human and, though particularly gifted with perception and manipulation, claims no super human abilities or powers.
Inventory: As he is being taken just after the diner scene in Sic Transit Imperium, Jack is arriving with his messenger bag which, in addition to several notepads, contains personal items such as house keys, a wallet, his reading glasses, a cell phone (presumably rendered useless from the water damage), and a small collection of pens and pencils. As seen in the episode, Jack is dressed warmly in a collared shirt, a cardigan, and a heavy waterproof jacket (of the North Face/camping variety). Jack is also wearing a watch.