The Political Rise and Fall of Ray Harding

Legendary political boss Ray Harding passed away this week. Harding was the head of the Liberal party and a close ally of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

But his career ended in disgrace in 2009. Harding pleaded guilty to receiving $800,000 in kickback fees as part of an illegal pay-to-play scheme under former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi

Wayne Barrett, journalist, author and Newsweek contributor, covered Harding’a political career extensively. He said under Harding’s leadership, the small Liberal party was a political giant.

“It could have enormous clout depending upon the decisions that Ray made. He was never the chairman of the party strangely enough, but anybody who knew anything about the power of politics of New York knew that Ray was at the center of it,” Barrett said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who prosecuted Harding when he was attorney general, speaking on the Fred Dicker talk radio show said it was time to set aside politics. “Today I was looking at some of the stories on Ray. Forget the politics, Fred, forget all this stuff. It’s a personal tragedy.”

Harding died Thursday morning of cancer. He was 77.