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Democrats dogged by Richardson investigations

By Laurie Bennett

December 9, 2011 at 8:57am

Democratic Party stalwarts have to be holding their breath over the outcome and timing of federal investigations of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

As the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, Richardson is the subject of not one but two probes - one of possible campaign finance violations and the other into allegations of corruption in state investments.

The second investigation is related to pay-to-pay scandals in New York, which resulted in a prison sentence for the state’s former comptroller, Alan Hevesi.

Saul Meyer, a defendant who admitted paying kickbacks in New York, also advised New Mexican officials. The Journal reported that Meyer says he conducted a similar scheme in New Mexico during Richardson’s tenure as governor.

Bill Richardson
Bill Richardson

A federal grand jury in Albuquerque has been reviewing allegations that people close to Richardson steered state investment funds to money managers who then paid big consulting fees to Democratic fundraisers.

Richardson was President Obama’s nominee for Commerce secretary, but withdrew in 2009, citing “a pending investigation of a company that has done business with New Mexico state government.”

As a former congressman who served as United Nations ambassador and energy secretary during the Clinton administration, Richardson drew plenty of big Democratic supporters to his 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

One of them was financier and former auto czar Steven Rattner, who was implicated in the New York pay-to-pay scheme. Rattner agreed to pay more than $18 million to settle suits filed against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was then the state attorney general.

Other big Richardson donors - who have not been linked to the pay-to-pay scandals - include:

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