Hank Morris, the media consultant who produced one of the most famous campaign ads in California political history, has been indicted in New York in a pay to play scheme on 123 counts including enterprise corruption, Martin Act securities fraud, grand larceny, bribery, money laundering, and related offenses. Link
In 1989, Morris and then-partner Bill Carrick produced what came to be called “the grabber” to kick off Dianne Feinstein’s campaign for governor. The ad, declaring that Feinstein was “forged in tragedy,” featured news footage of her — then president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors — announcing the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.
Carrick later recalled that when Morris found the news report while going through Feinstein’s files, he yelled, “This is it – come and look.”
Los Angeles-based consultant Carrick, Morris’s longtime partner, has not worked with Morris for at least two years and is not implicated in the indictment.
In New York, Morris was the chief political consultant to Alan G. Hevesi, the state’s former comptroller, and one of two aides charged Thursday in a grand jury indictment sought by Andrew Cuomo, New York’s ambitious attorney general. The indictment said they had turned New York’s $122 billion pension fund into a criminal enterprise. The scheme netted them and other Hevesi associates tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks from firms investing the fund’s money, the indictment said. Link to indictment
Morris’s attorney, William Schwartz, told the New York Daily News his client is innocent: “There was no fraud and no corruption,” he said.
According to the indictment, Morris was the comptroller’s consultant from 2003 through 2007 through Morris & Carrick, and Morris held meetings in his consulting office to discuss pension fund investments.
Morris and Carrick produced a second ad in the 1990 gubernatorial Democratic primary that also gained widespread attention. At the state Democratic Party convention, Feinstein strongly defended her support of the death penalty in her speech, drawing loud boos from the liberal delegates.
As the booing and jeering cascaded, Morris, who was standing at the press table, smilingly said, “Bless you, bless you.” He later told reporters, “They booed, exactly as they were supposed to,” and Feinstein’s campaign soon released a TV spot showing the confrontation with the delegates, as a demonstration of her independence, and as a contrast with anti-death penalty rival and then attorney general John Van de Kamp.
In that race, Feinstein beat Van de Kamp but lost to Pete Wilson in the general election.