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Grand Jury Investigation into Richardson Donor Heats Up

By Carol D. Leonnig
A federal grand jury is investigating how an investment company won more than $1.5 million in work advising the state of New Mexico after making contributions to the political action committees of Gov. Bill Richardson, President-elect Barack Obama's choice to be commerce secretary.

The "pay-to-play" investigation is looking at whether the governor's office played a role in the the hiring of CDR Financial Products -- and the probe is in a highly active stage, two sources familiar with the matter said. Tomorrow in Albuquerque, the grand jury is expected to hear testimony from several witnesses, including officials at J.P. Morgan, who worked with the state and CDR on the state's investments, and from Richard's political action committee, the sources said.

The FBI and federal prosecutors are focused on how the Beverly Hills-based CDR won lucrative fees from the New Mexico Finance Authority in 2004 very soon 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, according to the sources. FBI agents have already asked numerous witnesses whether the governor's aides were involved in CDR's hiring.

Richardson's spokesman and the U.S. Attorney's office in New Mexico declined to comment on the probe, which began earlier this summer. So far, several board members at the N.M. Finance Authority have publicly confirmed being interviewed about CDR's hiring.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 15, 2008; 5:31 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Cabinet  
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Comments

"Bribery" is indeed illegal. You are at least aware that Blagojevich was arrested for solicitation of bribery, right? I wonder if Rahm Emanuel ever reported him? The key questions as to all these scandals, however, is what did Obama know and when did he know it?

Posted by: JakeD | December 17, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Even if they did donate to Richardson, there is nothing illegal about that. Not to mention this happened in 2004. As long as he didn't enrich his personal bank account or accept gifts, he is in the clear. Nothing to see here.

Posted by: ne_voice | December 17, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Back on topic, President Clinton only had one scandal with his initial nominees, right? We are up to three, so far, with rPresident Obama. Hopefully, someone has to withdraw their name from consideration, but not until long, drawn-out confirmation hearings. A bonus would be if Obama tries to rescind "don't ask, don't tell". I can't wait for the Keyes lawsuit to make it to the ROBERTS Supreme Court ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 17, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I was just comparing the popular vote.

Posted by: JakeD | December 16, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

JakeD:
Regarding the landslide comment:

Obama won by the LARGEST margin since Ronald Reagan in 1984, a margin of 192 ELECTORAL Votes, and 52.9% to 45.7% , a 7.2% margin, along with a 9.1 million vote margin.

Prop 8 passed by a 4.6% margin - representing just under 600,000 votes. Perhaps you were confusing this with Prop. 22 which in year 2000 passed by a 23.4% margin. The vote then was 61.4% in favor and 38% same-sex marriage. Whatever...Once this topic is resurrected in yet another Proposition, it appears on track to lose in a few years.

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won."
~Mahatma Gandhi

Posted by: thomasp1 | December 16, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I hope, no I pray, that the pansies in the Democratic party remember this when they have the advantage! "No, we can't investigate corruption and war crimes, that would be partisan, and we have to be nice", they cry. All the while the Republicans and the present administration are pulling out all the stops to throw their power around. If I were Bush and his band of thugs I would keep a real low profile. But no, not to worry; the Democrats are guaranteed not to stand up for themselves or the American people.

Posted by: mgrello | December 16, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have informed the American people that Democrats are not capable of being corrupt only Republicans are.

Therefore stop this political witchhunt immediately!

Posted by: mwhoke | December 16, 2008 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Just as the Bushies set the bar incredibly high when it comes to incompetency, so too have they done when it comes to corruption. The no bid contracts for the Iraq debacle, letting big oil run up the price of crude and, for the coup de grace, the Wall street bail out. So, excuse me if I am not terribly concerned with this possible appearance of impropriety.

Posted by: rkerg | December 15, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

I outlined several very real possibilities over on the "Obama Train Trip, Echoes of Lincoln" thread. You really think the incoming SecState is ALREADY engaged in scorched earth tactics?

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 8:24 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, how ya be? Though your "Obama won't be sworn in" is as much wishful thinking as Scrivener's "Gore will be the nominee."

Personally, I'd bet the Clintons have their fingerprints all over this. (That's the best evidence Obama really is clean: the Clintons investigated the h@ll out of him and all they could come up with is Rev. Wright.) You know their Oppo Research is the best in the business, surpassed only by their proclivity to sling whatever dirt they can at enemies, real and perceived. They don't forget and they don't forgive.

Posted by: gbooksdc | December 15, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

53% is a "landslide" when it comes to The One, but not when it comes to Prop. 8 out here in California ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

After 8 years of Cheyney/Bush receiving hundreds of millions in campaign contributions then rewarding these corporate bushies NO-BID defense contracts in Iraq and elsewhere, where do you R's get off criticizing the Pres-elect who hasn't even taken office yet? Cheyney and Bush family have made millions off the backs of taxpayers for this criminal war. How do we know whether these grand jury's are remnants of the Bush Injustice Office going after ONLY the other party to politicize elections...wasn't the prosecutor let go for political reasons from NM...Bush WH is still under investigation for this fiasco. Wake up R's...Obama won in a landslide and look what we are left with...6,000 americans dead, hundreds of thousands injured/mamed, economic decimation, largest debt in history (war isn't even on the books yet---add another $Trillion for that needless mess), and for all of that Bush gets a couple of shoes in the face instead of doing time.

Posted by: johnancy1 | December 15, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

The stench of corruption hangs low over the Obama transition as Richardson is pulled into the vortex. Soon trillions of federal dollars will be splooged into the nimble old hands of these appointed kleptocrats.

Posted by: georgejones5 | December 15, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I know it's a longshot, but I'm still praying for it ...

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

We are no more "tin foil" types than the 9/11 conspiracy theorists on your side ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

The tin foil types are out in force, God bless 'em!

Posted by: abqcleve | December 15, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

The investigations of the governor and his pay to play buddies hasn't even been investigated enough for the American people to know who all the players were, how long this went on, like back to 2003 perhaps, nor any common people who had privy to the details to come forward to tell it all. I hope that the IL. governor will tell it all, and not leave out anyone. At least he could sale a book and we would know who the players were.

Now for New Mexico's governor, that scheme too has to be investigated and given time to follow the money and the people who were party to the planning. How did they get the money,move the money, who all contributed? Got tapes?

Posted by: net_50@yahoo.com | December 15, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

tharper1:

Exactly. My prediction remains that Barack HUSSEIN Obama, Jr. will not be sworn in as President on January 20, 2009.

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Obama, reportedly the smartest guy in the world—having replaced Bill & Hillary as the smartest persons. But, Sen. Obama claims to not have known:

Rezko was a criminal,
Ayers & wife were terrorists,
Rev. Wright said G** D*** America,
Khalidi was a PLO terrorist,
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was a jerk,
Rahm Emanuel had contact with Blagojevich’s staff

It sort of makes you wonder what else he doesn’t know.

Posted by: tharper1 | December 15, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

rrau22:

I am aware that he is now "officially" President-Elect. Perhaps you can answer the questions I asked of ems57fcva?

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

The comments on this article are just so ridiculous...

a lot of bitter people who really have George Bush and his cronies to blame for an economy that is cratering and like a dysfunctional family they attack the the "healthiest" member (Obama) because they actually resent someone who has their act together.

The Richardson investigation will produce what it produces and if he is tainted he will be dropped.... end of story.

Posted by: markcg2 | December 15, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

JakeD; you flopped on the birth certificate thing, Obama is past the Electoral College with the exception of Colorado which is yet to vote; the Blagojevich babble is dead; but you're hanging on by a thread. Even the Bush bashers were not as persistent as you. But guess what, you can rant for 8 years and you will have wasted a lot of your life for zilch.

Posted by: rrau22 | December 15, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Richardson appointment is an obvious political payback for his support at the primary. Richardson himself has been an opportunist all his life and it is a huge mistake to appoint him to a federal office.

Posted by: work2play | December 15, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

twin_peaks_nikki, No person is ENTITLED to the presidency and that was the problem with all the loyal Hillary followers---they felt she was entitled. This election was a nasty one largely because of the race of the democratic nominee. Kid yourselves if you want, but the tone of the election was bad and it got even worse when a black man became the front runner. They will continue to find as much as possible to bring him down no matter how honest Barack may be. That is the nature of our country. You are living in a dream world if you think this is all about politics. They will use anyone they can to make sure Barack doesn't get a 2nd term, but I believe we will prevail. I can't wait to read all the posts about how this isn't about Obama's race, but just explain how it isn't and I might believe you. The anti-Obama talk far reaches beyond any anti-president elect talk that I have seen before. Sad indeed.

Posted by: shukuracc | December 15, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Yo! GOP shills commenting here: note, there is no "there" there! Nothing damaging reported in this story: it's complete nonsense. Review the five (count 'em, 5) articles since July in the Albuquerque Journal, including one op-ed hatchet job, and decide for yourself. This is the WaPo at its worst, trying to link the NM investigation to Blago. This is a routine investigation that I guarantee you will end next year with some bureaucrat getting his wrist slapped for shoddy recordkeeping. This won't touch Richardson or Obama.

Posted by: abqcleve | December 15, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

ems57fcva:

What if Obama KNEW about all of this and still picked Richardson? Perhaps you've forgotten previous Administration's nominees who got tripped up for far less serious accusations that this? Even just politically-speaking, the last thing Obama needs are multiple scandals pending on January 20, 2009.

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I personally think that we should hold Barack Obama accountable for his own actions and not those of others. In this case, he does need to be held accountable for the choice of someone who has come under suspiscion. Then again, until this broke Bill Richardson was an obvious cabinet pick. Nor can one expect perfection in the picking of cabinet members, even with the proper precautions being taken.

Posted by: ems57fcva | December 15, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

JoeT1:

Obviously, the WaPo has some new info on this investigation. It's fair to ask what Obama (and Rahm) knew and when did he know it. I'm still waiting to see how the Rezko investigation shakes out. How many "innocent" acquaintances / appointments do you think are too many for "coincidences"?

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

As a New Mexican, I find this Post story completely specious. The grand jury has been looking into this since July, as first reported in the ABQ Journal (http://www.abqjournal.com/news/state/201976nm07-23-04.htm). In question is a $75,000 contribution from CDR to a 527 PAC formed to assist Richardson's national political efforts. Additionally, they were reported to have contributed another $25K to another PAC the previous year.

The contributions are clearly legal and there is zero evidence of Richardson benefiting personally, so this is nothing like the Blago investigation. There is no equivalent of a Fitzpatrick here in NM screaming bloody murder about perversions of American justice (and our US Attorney is a Republican, of course).

There is no evidence whatsoever, and none offered in the article above, to support the headline that this investigation is "heating up." Instead, this appears to be a rehash of the ABQ Journal article, dredged up only because of Richardson's nomination and Blago's troubles. The most recent local story on this investigation is an editorial dated 10/23 from a board that is well-known for opposing Richardson. Even they acknowledge that the Feds are not looking into the legitimacy of CDR's work and payments, just how the deal was done. (http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/editorials/2499517788opinioneditorials10-24-08.htm).

Scurrilous reporting, people. I like the Post, but I'll call a stinker a stinker when I see one.

Posted by: abqcleve | December 15, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Another really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS

Posted by: hclark1 | December 15, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

nikki and JakeD: this has exactly what to do with Obama? If Richardson is found to have done something wrong, his nomination will be toast. it's certainly unlikely that Obama nominated him either because or despite knowing about this, unless it was after doing their own work and deciding Richardson would be exonerated, because the investigation appears to have been known some time ago. again, what scenario relates to Obama?

Posted by: JoeT1 | December 15, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Last I checked, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, Jr. (assuming Sr. was his real father) won the election, not John SIDNEY McCain, III. Did Sargeant get appointed to any government post?

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

What about War Profiteering from Harry Sargeant, the Florida fundraiser who bundled checks for Republican Sen. John McCain:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/10/16/mccain_bundler_accused_of_war.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/16/AR2008101603997.html

A top fundraiser for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain has been involved in apparent war profiteering by inflating prices on jet fuel in defense contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Of the $210 million in profits received by the company, at least one third -- $70 million -- appears to have benefited a single individual: Mr. Sargeant."

Posted by: liveride | December 15, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I am so bitter and angry that more allegations of corruption are being reported. If Obama Barack is sworn in under a cloud of suspicion it will go a long ways toward proving what the angry, bitter leftists have been saying for months: that Hillary -- not Barack Hussein Obama -- is entitled to the presidency.

Posted by: twin_peaks_nikki | December 15, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget the Rezko grand jury is still plugging away too ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

And the hits keep coming ...

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

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