I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Fouratt: Richardson not exonerated
In a letter sent to witnesses before the grand jury investigating accusations of pay to play in Gov. Richardson’s administration, United States attorney, Gregory J. Fouratt said that while criminal charges weren’t forthcoming, “pressure from the governor’s office resulted in the corruption of the procurement process” and that the letter “should not be interpreted as exoneration of any party’s conduct in that matter, the New York Times reported late Thursday night.
Richardson’s office had released a statement on Thursday saying, in part: “Governor Richardson has known all along that neither he nor any staff members committed any transgressions during their successful fundraising back in 2004. The U.S. Attorney’s thorough and lengthy investigation has apparently determined the same thing – that no indiscretions occurred.”
Federal investigators were investigating how CDR Financial Products Inc., of Beverly Hills, Calif., got two consulting contracts in 2004 worth about $1.4 million to advise New Mexico on a large bond issue to help pay for road projects across the state. CDR president, David Rubin, a major Democratic contributor, had given more than $110,000 to two political action committees controlled by the governor from 2003 to 2005.
The largest of those donation, $75,000, was made less than a week before CDR was chosen by the Finance Authority to handle the investment of bond proceeds. The investigation focused on whether the governor’s former chief of staff, David Contarino, played a role in hiring CDR.
Allies of the governor have long accused Fouratt, a Republican, of going after Richardson for political reasons, an allegation that Fouratt has denied.
The Times reported that “Fouratt took the unusual steps of bringing in a new prosecutor to present evidence last fall and then empaneling a new grand jury in January, after it became clear that the first grand jury was not ready to indict, lawyers for several of the witnesses before the grand jury said.”
The paper reported that top Justice Department officials concurred with Fouratt’s decision to drop the inquiry.