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Obama Secretary of Commerce Richardson Under Investigation by Grand Jury

December 23, 2008
Judicial Watch
12/19/2008
Source …..

judicial-watchWhile Barack Obama and his chief of staff are in the middle of the Blagojevich mess, another top Obama appointee has his own influence peddling scandal to deal with. I’m referring to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson who is tapped to be Obama’s Secretary of Commerce.

According to The Washington Post:

A federal grand jury is investigating whether a financial firm improperly won more than $1.4 million in work for the state of New Mexico shortly after making contributions to political action committees of Gov. Bill Richardson (D).

The probe focuses on whether the governor’s office urged a state agency to hire CDR Financial Products. The probe is in a highly active stage at a time when President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Richardson as his nominee for secretary of commerce, according to two sources familiar with the investigation…

…The inquiry is part of a long-running nationwide investigation into “pay-to-play” practices in local government bond markets. In other cities, federal investigators are questioning whether financial firms have lavished politicians with money and gifts in exchange for fee-paying work advising municipal and local governments on investments.

Between 2003-2004, CDR, a Beverly Hills based financial services company, donated $75,000 to an organization called Si Se Puede (or “Yes We Can), which paid for expenses at the Democratic National Convention. The company’s founder, David Rubin, also chipped in an additional $25,000 in support of an organization that helped Richardson court Latino voters (Moving America Forward). When CDR applied for the financial services contract, according to the Post, they were not even in the top three bidders. However, after a little internal finagling, CDR was awarded the lucrative contract. Following the example of Obama, Richardson is refusing to answer questions about the scandal.

As I told you a few weeks back, Richardson is no stranger to corruption. After all, he was the man in charge at the Clinton Energy Department when nuclear secrets were stolen from Los Alamos Laboratory and transferred to the Communist Chinese. (He ruined the subsequent investigation through improper leaks.) He also attempted to buy Monica Lewinsky’s silence by offering her a job when he served as Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations.

So is it really that far of a stretch to think he may have awarded government contracts to a campaign contributor? (As an aside, the Blagojevich wiretaps suggest that he thought the Energy Department – Richardson’s old perch – was the place to make money. I’m interested in knowing who Blagojevich was referencing as having illicitly benefited from appointment as Energy chief.)

The latest grand jury investigation is yet another reason that either Obama should withdraw Richardson’s name or the Senate should reject his nomination.

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