Monday, December 15, 2008

Corruption, Politics and the New Administration: Bill Richardson and His "Pay to Play" Scheme.

Read the newest Update on the Richardson Scandal Richardson withdraws from Obama Cabinet

Looks like another political player strongly connected to Barack Obama is playing dirty and for keeps.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Obama's appointed Secretary of Commerce, is being investigated by a federal grand jury and is being linked to a bond deal scheme that has landed Birmingham, Alabama’s mayor, Larry Langford with federal solicitation charges.

From Bloomberg:

The grand jury in Albuquerque is looking into Beverly Hills, California-based CDR Financial Products Inc., which received almost $1.5 million in fees from the New Mexico Finance Authority in 2004 after donating $100,000 to Richardson’s efforts to register Hispanic and American Indian voters and pay for expenses at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, people familiar with the matter said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation asked current and former officials from the state agency if any staff members in the governor’s office influenced CDR’s hiring, said the people, who declined to be identified because the proceedings are secret. Richardson, who is President-elect Barack Obama’s designate for Commerce Secretary, has a staff of at least 30 people.

“They’re looking at everything related to CDR,” William Sisneros, the finance agency’s chief executive officer, said of the FBI probe. “They’re just trying to evaluate all the relationships to see what CDR was doing for the money.”

In October 2003, CDR President David Rubin gave $25,000 to Moving America Forward Inc., a political action committee formed by Richardson, disclosure forms show. Seven months later, CDR, known then as Chambers, Dunhill, Rubin & Co., gave $75,000 to ¡Si Se Puede! Boston 2004 Inc., formed to help pay expenses at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, where Richardson was chairman.

Cooperation Expected

“The Governor’s Office is aware of questions surrounding some financial transactions at the New Mexico Finance Authority,” said Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for Richardson. “We expect any state agency that is approached with federal officials” to cooperate, he said, declining to comment further. Calls to Richardson were directed to Gallegos.

Darrin Jones, an FBI spokesman, declined to comment, as did Norman Cairns, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Albuquerque. CDR’s lawyer, Richard Beckler, a partner at Howrey LLP in Washington, declined to comment. Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to comment.

A member of the agency’s board, Craig Reeves, said he was asked by federal agents about hiring CDR and whether the donations had any role.

‘Many Things Discussed’

“That was one of many things we discussed,” he said, declining to comment on the specific scope of the investigation. He said no one at the governor’s office discussed retaining CDR with him when the decision was made.

I did a quick google search for this story and it seems the only people running this story, besides Bloomberg which broke it, is The Washington Post and the National Review, both decidedly conservative publications. Also our friend Eric Dondero at The Libertarian Republican blog makes mention. God Bless that Dondero.

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