The corrupt world of public pensions claimed another victim today.
NYT: Raymond B. Harding, one of the last of New York’s political bosses, admitted on Tuesday that he had accepted more than $800,000 in exchange for doing favours for Alan G. Hevesi, the former state comptroller; among the favours was a scheme to secure an Assembly seat for Mr. Hevesi’s son.
The guilty plea by Mr. Harding, who was once a leader of the small but influential Liberal Party in New York, was one of the more dramatic developments in a corruption investigation by the state attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, who is scrutinizing fees paid to associates of Mr. Hevesi by investment firms seeking business with the state’s pension fund.
Cuomo jointly announced the guilty plea of Saul Meyer, a national public pension adviser. Meyer paid $300,000 to Hank Morris — the top political adviser to Hevesi — to obtain and influence fund investments.
New York is just one of the states with a history of dubious relationships between the politicians who influence or control public pension funds and those who want investments from the billions of dollars in cash they hold (the state’s pension fund alone has $116.5 billion).
There’s plenty of legal influencing too — private equity firms have given nearly $2 million in campaign contributions to officials with potential influence over the funds’ investments.
Like other Attorney Generals, Cuomo decided to spring into action after his state took a bath on its investments. That’s when this become a crisis of law enforcement.
“These guilty pleas vividly depict the depth and breadth of corruption involving the New York State pension fund,” said Attorney General Cuomo in a statement. “In one case, we see New York’s state pension fund looted to reward a political boss with hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper payments. In the other, we see a pension fund adviser – the outside “gatekeeper” who is supposed to safeguard the integrity of the pension fund process – recommending deals based on pressure from pension officials and politically-connected people.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.