Disgraced N.Y. Pay-To-Play Power Broker Dies

Aug 15 2012 | 10:05am ET

Raymond Harding, a once-powerful New York political figure who pleaded guilty to a role in the pay-to-play scandal at the state's main public pension fund three years ago, has died.

Harding led New York's Liberal Party from 1977 until 2004, five years before he was implicated in the kickback scam at the New York State Common Retirement Fund that ensnared several high-profile alternative investment firms and sent the state's then-comptroller, Alan Hevesi, a frequent Liberal candidate, to prison. Harding avoided that fate, pleading guilty to taking $800,000 in exchange for doing favors for Hevesi and cooperated with the investigation; he was even allowed to keep the money he received.

Harding admitted that Henry Morris, Hevesi's chief political advisor, involved him in several deals as a bogus intermediary between the pension fund and money managers, including Pequot Capital Management. Morris was convicted and sentenced to up to four years in prison; Hevesi got one year.

The disgrace was a final blow for Harding, who saw his Liberals lose their ballot line in New York in 2002; in the decades prior to that defeat, the party's (and Harding's) support helped elect governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo, mayors Robert Wagner, John Lindsay and Rudolph Giuliani, and Sen. Jacob Javits; some Democrats, some Republicans. He also helped future Mayor Ed Koch get his start, giving him crucial backing in his first race for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Harding was 77.


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