Nucky's organization is a system tying politicians and racketeers together under the control of a Republican political boss in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The organization originated under the control of Commodore Louis Kaestner. Its ties to racketeering were developed by his successor Nucky Thompson. Nucky for a short time, stood down as the boss and Jimmy Darmody took his place, however, Nucky had orchestrated events behind the scenes that ensured the machine's ineffectiveness without him and eventually reinstated himself back as boss and ruler of Atlantic City and continues to reign as king in 1923.
A system of protection payments from illegal rackets funds the organization. Protection allows the rackets to operate with immunity from police interference. Conversely, failure to pay is followed by police raids closing down the rackets. The rackets includes illegal gambling operations and prostitution. The protection racket is made possible by Nucky's strong ties to the Atlantic County Sheriff's Office; Nucky was once Atlantic County Sheriff and his brother Eli Thompson now holds the position. The collections are made by the city's Aldermen (the members of the city council).
Under Nucky's regime even the hotel owners and restaurateurs pay protection money. They expect his political policies to ensure a robust tourist economy for the city in return. In the episode when D'Alessios brothers rob O'Neil you can see just before the list of businessess that pays protection money.
The Aldermen are also responsible for maintaining the political dominance of the Republican party. They are tasked with offering an unofficial welfare system to voters in their wards involving assistance finding jobs and cash hand outs for the poor. They ensure that their constituents are registered to vote. The political arm of the organization aims to ensure voter loyalty by maintaining a thriving economy for the resort. Their ties to racketeers facilitate this by maintaining the city's reputation as a place where illicit experiences are available to tourists.
At election times the Aldermen ensure that their wards vote along the lines Nucky wants. They are also involved in illegal election rigging including election fraud, interference with vote counting by dumping ballot boxes and corruption of voter influencing organizations. Nucky therefore has strong ties to racketeers and absolute political control of Atlantic County. His reputation for being able to deliver consistent large Republican turn-outs in State and nationwide elections gives him political influence far beyond the County. He uses this influence to protect the organization from investigation and to ensure that the Atlantic City economy thrives.
The political part of the organization was originally developed by former Atlantic County Treasurer Louis "The Commodore" Kaestner. Kaestner was a mentor to Nucky and his predecessor as boss. Kaestner stood down after a conviction for election fraud. He still received a portion of the organization's takings every week and remained an adviser to Thompson until a failed coup to regain control, an unexpected stroke and murder at the hands of his son Jimmy Darmody, put him out of the game forever.
With the introduction of Prohibition Nucky moves his organization into the production and supply of illegal alcohol. He introduces a system where Aldermen take orders from businesses in their wards, the Sheriff's department deliver the alcohol and the Aldermen then collect payment. This is in addition to the protection arrangement already in place with the majority of businesses in the city. An example of a business owner supplied by the organization is Abe Klein, who runs a speakeasy.
Nucky Thompson sells a shipment of undiluted whiskey to New York crime boss Arnold Rothstein. The organization suffers its first major setbacks in bootlegging when Nucky's disenchanted driver Jimmy Darmody masterminds and carries out the Hammonton hijacking, stealing the shipment sold to Rothstein. Jimmy simultaneously gives Prohibition Agents the location of Mickey Doyle's main still. Doyle is arrested and his stores are seized and destroyed.
Nucky responds by firing Doyle and contracting Chalky White, an African American community leader and political ally, to take over production. White operates out of a livery and alcohol is smuggled into him from the docks using a Hearse.
Darmody's hijacking provokes conflict with Rothstein in New York and federal investigation via Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden. Nucky exiles Darmody in Chicago. Van Alden secures an indictment against Alderman Jim Neary.
Doyle allies himself with the D'Alessio brothers, a criminal gang from Philadelphia. They rob George O'Neill while he is making his collections and draw the attention of Rothstein's enforcer Lucky Luciano. Luciano contracts the D'Alessio brothers to rob Lolly Steinman's casino and Eli is shot and injured in the robbery.
Nucky has Darmody return from Chicago to act as his chief enforcer. Legal difficulties cause Rothstein to turn to Nucky for assistance using his political connections despite their earlier differences. Nucky agrees to help on the condition that Rothstein give up the D'Alessio brothers. Nucky has all of the gang murdered.
The Commodore decides to regain control of the organization via a political coup against Nucky Thompson. He gains the support of Jimmy Darmody (his estranged son) and Eli Thompson, along with the majority of the Aldermen. He feeds information to Deputy District Attorney Solomon Bishop regarding Nucky's involvement in election rigging using Alderman Jim Neary and his chief clerk Paddy Ryan as confidential witnesses. Nucky is arrested but soon released on bail. Alderman Damien Fleming and Mayor Edward Bader remain loyal to Nucky. Fleming tells Nucky about The Commodore's treachery. The Commodore grooms Darmody for political success, introducing him to power brokers like Leander Cephas Whitlock and important politicians like Governor Edwards.
Bill McCoy refuses to betray Nucky. The Commodore therefore uses his connections in the Coast Guard to prevent McCoy from making deliveries to Nucky. Darmody allows the Ku Klux Klan to attack an alcohol storage warehouse run by Chalky White. White is later arrested for killing one of the Klan members and starts to lose the support of the African American community when Nucky refuses to allow him to avenge the deaths of his people. Darmody steals the alcohol from the warehouse while Chalky is in jail.
Nucky responds by recruiting a new enforcer Irish Republican Army member Owen Sleater. He has Sleater bomb Darmody's new storage warehouse. The Commodore suffers a debilitating stroke reducing the effectiveness of Nucky's opponents and allowing Darmody to become leader of the faction.
Nucky arranges for Arnold Rothstein to introduce him to Philadelphia gangster Waxey Gordon and for his shipment's to be delivered via Philadelphia. Rothstein recruits Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky to guard the shipments as they are driven from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. Darmody attempts to hijack the first shipment but instead recruits Luciano and Lansky to the attempted takeover of the organization.
When his new allies insist that the political coup has failed Darmody arranges for Nucky to be assassinated. The attempt fails and Nucky is only wounded. The election rigging case against Nucky continues to gain momentum despite his attempts to use his political influence to have the charges dropped.
Nucky announces that he is standing down as Atlantic County Treasurer and retiring from his position as head of the organization. He instructs Mayor Bader to work with Darmody. Darmody assumes control and Neary becomes the new Treasurer. Doyle expects to resume managing shipments from McCoy. However, Nucky continues to retaliate from behind the scenes, instructing Chalky to arrange a citywide strike of African American workers and arranging to trade guns for liquor with the Irish Republican Army.
Darmody arranges for the organization to buy the supply routes of medicinal liquor from corrupt distributor George Remus so that they can hijack the liquor for reconstitution and sale. The distribution is undermined by the influx of cheaper and better quality Irish Whiskey that Nucky imports courtesy of his connections to the IRA. This and the African-American worker strike ensure the new political machine's downfall and Nucky eventually returns as head of the organization.
- Nucky Thompson: Boss, former Atlantic County Treasurer
- Jimmy Darmody: Former Boss (deceased)
- Louis Kaestner: Former Adviser, former boss (deceased)
- Leander Cephas Whitlock: Former adviser, loyal to Darmody (ousted for treachery)
- Gillian Darmody: Former adviser, loyal to Darmody (ousted for treachery)
- Jim Neary: Former Ward Boss, Former Atlantic County Treasurer under Darmody (deceased)
- Eli Thompson: Former Atlantic County Sheriff, bootlegging assistant, onetime traitor
- Harry Bacharach: Former Atlantic City Mayor
- Edward Bader: Atlantic City Mayor
- Al Boyd: Former alderman, loyal to Darmody (ousted for treachery)
- George O'Neill: Former alderman, loyal to Darmody (deceased)
- Damien Fleming: Atlantic County Treasurer, former alderman
- Chalky White: African American community leader and bootlegging manager
- Bill McCoy: Alcohol importer
- Mickey Doyle: Bootlegging manager
- Owen Sleater: Bootlegging enforcer (deceased)
- Arnold Rothstein: Bootlegging partner
- Waxey Gordon: Bootlegging partner
- Johnny Torrio: Adviser
- Gyp Rosetti: Former customer, rival (deceased)
- Charlie Luciano: Former partner under Darmody, former customer
- Meyer Lansky: Former partner under Darmody, former customer
- George Remus: Former partner under Darmody, former customer
- Al Capone: Former partner under Darmody