Roger Ailes, the highly influential and controversial founder of Fox News who was last year forced out of the network amid a sexual harassment scandal, has died at the age of 77.

The media mogul also served as an adviser to Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and, after his exit from Fox News, the election campaign of presidential candidate Donald Trump. He joined Fox in 1996 and helped build it into a massively influential and profitable section of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” his wife Elizabeth Ailes said in a statement published on the Drudge Report on Thursday (May 18th).

A post shared by Fox News (@foxnews) on

“Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise – and to give back.”

Ailes was a highly successful local TV producer before serving as an adviser to both Nixon and Reagan in the White House. He joined the network in 1996 and transformed it entirely, before he was forced out of the company in July 2016 following allegations that he sexually harassed employees.

These included former host Gretchen Carlson, who alleged in a lawsuit that in the 11 years she worked there she was subjected to “severe and pervasive sexual harassment” and that she was fired when she refused to have sex with him. Ailes denied the allegations, but was given a reputed $40 million payout on his departure and remained as a consultant to the network.

Rupert Murdoch said in his own statement reacting to Ailes’ death: “Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have. In addition, Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs. At 21st Century Fox we will always be enormously grateful for the great business he built. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Elizabeth and son Zachary.”

More: Robert Knepper discusses ‘Prison Break’ return: “things are a bit deeper now”