Vernon Jordan, executive and civil rights activist who advised Bill Clinton, dies at age 85

Vernon Jordan, the civil rights activist and former close aide to President Bill Clinton, died at age 85.

Jordan died Monday evening, CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin reported. A cause of death was not immediately known.

“Vernon E. Jordan Jr. passed away peacefully last evening surrounded by loved ones. We appreciate all of the outpouring of love and affection,” Jordan’s daughter, Vickee Jordan, said in a statement, Sorkin reported.

Jordan, who was born in Atlanta and graduated from Howard University School of Law, became deeply involved in civil rights activism in the 1960s, challenging segregation and racially discriminatory policies.

Jordan held leadership roles in the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund and the National Urban League, where he served as president from 1971 to 1981.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund in a tweet lamented the passing of Jordan, “an esteemed attorney and leader who helped drive the advancement of civil rights in America over a venerable career.” Jordan had served on the fund’s board of directors.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends. He will be missed,” the NAACP said.

In Washington, D.C., Jordan’s political experience and knack for connecting with people led him to forge close relationships with powerful figures, most notably former President Clinton.

The New York Times reported in 1998 that Jordan did not have to ask to be put through to the Oval Office when he called the White House operators.

Vernon Jordan attends the 40th Anniversary Gala for “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste” Campaign at The New York Marriott Marquis on March 3, 2011 in New York City.

Andy Kropa | Getty Images

Jordan was also embroiled in the scandal surrounding Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky when she was a White House intern.

Jordan denied accusations of wrongdoing related to his reported efforts to help Lewinsky find a job following her departure from the White House.

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