AUGUST 28, 2009
New Mexico officials are demanding the sort of transparency that Barack Obama has promised Americans involving his controversial decision not to criminally charge his friend—Governor Bill Richardson—in a pay to play scheme that cost him a presidential cabinet post.
A major news agency reported this week that top-level Justice Department officials in Washington intervened in the notoriously crooked governor’s investigation, killing any possibility of an indictment. “…It was killed in Washington,” according to a Justice Department source who alluded to the political influence-peddling that took place behind the scenes.
In December a grand jury began investigating Richardson, Obama’s pick to be Commerce Secretary, for giving a shady company a lucrative state deal after it donated tens of thousands of dollars to his political action committee. The deal had corruption written all over it because the California-based financial firm was granted the coveted state contract even though it had a documented history of doing bad work, including pushing an Alabama county into potential municipal bankruptcy. Its work in New Mexico was equally disastrous and cheated taxpayers out of thousands.
The scandal forced Richardson, who was Bill Clinton’s Energy Secretary, to withdraw his nomination for Commerce Secretary though he remains tight with Obama and serves as a sort of unofficial ambassador to the White House. The Justice Department’s decision to close the Richardson case can certainly be viewed as being tinged with favoritism, considering it came from the agency’s top brass and possibly the White House.
Pointing out that corruption is running rampant in Santa Fe, some outraged New Mexico lawmakers are pressing the feds for an explanation in this case. One Republican congresswoman confirmed that Richardson’s shady deal cost taxpayers a lot of money and helped his buddies make a lot of money. Not filing charges may be justified, the congresswoman said, but without an explanation the public’s confidence will continue to be eroded.
Attorney General Eric Holder needs to provide transparent and honest answers concerning the Richardson matter, according to New Mexico’s Republican Party chairman, who reminds the nation’s top law enforcement officer that he vowed not to tolerate attempts to politicize the Justice Department when he took office. “In light of the serious and endemic public corruption plague in this state, New Mexicans deserve straight answers from the Obama Administration,” according to Chairman Harvey Yates.
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