Harding's Pals

The freeloaders

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Russell Harding's guilty plea

In his plea to Judge Lewis Kaplan last Thursday, Russell Harding blurted out that he once picked up the tab for "Mayor Bloomberg and his girlfriend" to drink "copious amounts of wine." That was on the night before Thanksgiving, 2001, he said. Records show he used his city credit card that evening to spend $850 at Rain, a Manhattan restaurant. "Were they ever questioned about that?" said Harding in court. "I doubt it." A City Hall staff member said that neither the mayor nor his gal pal, Diana Taylor, recall ever meeting Harding, but that they "couldn't rule out that they didn't stop by the dinner."

If they did, it was most likely at the suggestion of Vincent LaPadula, a close Harding pal and former Giuliani aide who also worked for Bloomberg. LaPadula took a summer 2000 junket to the Pacific Northwest with Harding. Records show the two ran up a $2,400 tab at the posh Heathman Hotel in Portland, where they treated themselves to massages at $75 apiece. Harding also had his agency pay for a $1,000 birthday party at the Four Seasons on June 1, 2001—the night LaPadula turned 30. LaPadula, now an executive at JPMorgan Chase, did not return calls.

Harding let another cat out of the bag in his handwritten guilty plea. The former Housing Development Corporation president states that "in late 2001 I caused HDC to incur a charge of $1,000 for the Mayor's Chief of Staff to stay in a hotel in Washington, D.C." That would be Tony Carbonetti, a onetime close Harding friend, and Rudy Giuliani's chief of staff from 1999 to 2001. He now serves as managing partner for the ex-mayor's consulting firm, Giuliani Partners.

Had Carbonetti ever paid that money back? Giuliani's spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel, declined comment.

 
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