NPR logo Former Rep. Ray Lederer, Ex-GOP Boss Joe Margiotta

Former Rep. Ray Lederer, Ex-GOP Boss Joe Margiotta

Two notable political figures died this week: former Congressman Raymond Lederer (D-PA) and Joseph Margiotta, who led the Nassau County, N.Y., Republican Party organization for years.

Lederer and Margiotta campaign buttons.

Lederer is perhaps best known for his involvement in the Abscam scandal, where he was videotaped accepting a $50,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent disguised as an Arab businessman in 1979. Lederer along with Reps. Mike "Ozzie" Myers (D-PA), John Murphy (D-NY), Frank Thompson (D-NJ), John Jenrette (D-SC) and Richard Kelly (R-FL), as well as Sen. Harrison Williams (D-NJ), all of whom took bribes from agents disguised as Arab sheiks or their representatives were all convicted and sent to prison.

Lederer was first elected to Congress in 1976, winning the Philadelphia-area seat vacated by Democratic Senate candidate Bill Green. He easily won re-election two years later. Even in 1980, while under indictment, he won a third term, although by a reduced margin. Two months later he was convicted for his role in Abscam. He resigned his seat in April, a day after the House Ethics Committee voted to expel him. He later served 10 months in prison.

Lederer, who died on Monday, was 70.

Joe Margiotta was the longtime 1967-83 head of the Republican Party in Nassau County (Long Island), N.Y., an organization that produced Al D'Amato, later a U.S. senator, and Dean Skelos, currently the majority leader of the state Senate. Even before Margiotta but certainly while he was there, Nassau County was one of the most reliable GOP bastions in the state. But his influence came to an end, starting on Dec. 9, 1981, when he was convicted of federal mail fraud and conspiracy charges in a kickback scheme. He went to prison and served 14 months.

Margiotta died last Friday. He was 81 years old.

NOTE: Later this month, in a longer Political Junkie post, I will reprise my list of political figures who died during the year.

You can also read the list of those who passed on in 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.