New corruption allegations in NM may involve Bill Richardson

posted at 4:00 pm on May 15, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Just when Bill Richardson appeared to be in the clear on corruption charges in New Mexico, new allegations of pay-for-play during his administration may envelop the former Governor again.  A grand jury indicted a sitting district judge on charges of corruption for buying his appointment from Richardson in 2006, and a whistleblowing judge believes the rot went all the way to the top:

Third Judicial District Judge Mike Murphy allegedly said he gave $4,000 to get appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Bill Richardson in 2006, and told several people that other judicial appointees had to give money as well.

That’s according witness statements detailed in an incident report about the bribery case against Murphy. Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler, the special prosecutor in the case, released the report and the grand jury indictment of Murphy today in response to a records request from NMPolitics.net. It’s the first time the facts of the case have been made public.

Read the full report here.  What’s so shocking about it isn’t that payoffs were occurring, but that so many people knew they were occurring and did nothing about it.  Judge Lisa Schultz was warned on more than one occasion that she was risking her personal safety in pursuing the corruption, by more than one judge.  She defiantly told the district attorney’s office about the corruption in 2009, which then referred the case to independent counsel due to the inherent conflict of interest in investigating judges that preside over their own cases.  The DA at that time was Susanna Martinez, who wound up succeeding Richardson as governor last year.

Schultz could have taken the matter to the Judicial Standards Commission, but she didn’t trust them — for a very specific reason:

She had previously asked Norm Osborn, the Third Judicial District Court’s staff attorney, for an opinion. He wrote in a Sept. 24, 2007 memo that Murphy’s conduct was inappropriate and could be interpreted as “offering political influence in return for campaign contributions,” according to the report. Osborn urged Schultz to “consider referring this matter to the Judicial Standards Commission and to do so without delay.”

Schultz didn’t want to do that. She wrote in her journal that the majority of the commission’s members were appointed by Richardson, and the commission, which investigates ethical complaints against judges, had power over her.

Schultz wrote that she believed “the scheme also involved Governor Richardson,” and she did not feel comfortable “turning in Governor Richardson to his own board.”

Schultz then went on to secretly record a subsequent conversation with Murphy, in which he tacitly admitted to the corruption:

“Judge Schultz said to Murphy, ‘Do you remember when I asked you and Judge Martin about the fact that you guys had mentioned to judicial candidates that they, it would help their chances to give money to Edgar Lopez and hence the governor, blah, blah, blah, blah?’”

“Judge Murphy responded and said, ‘Yeah, of course, that’s over now, because we’re going to have a new governor.’”

Edgar Lopez is the alleged bagman in this operation, and the buffer for Richardson in the alleged scheme.  If Murphy cuts a deal — and a former judge has a lot of reasons to avoid the general population in a state prison — it will be to turn on Lopez and other judges who paid off Lopez for their appointments.  Assuming this is true, Lopez will be looking at a very long stretch in prison if he keeps his mouth shut about Richardson, who is after all the man who made the appointments after Lopez got the cash.  Lopez couldn’t collect unless Richardson was in on the scheme, and without Richardson, the other judges wouldn’t have felt the need to threaten others to keep quiet.

Richardson isn’t out of the woods at all in New Mexico.  This should get very, very interesting, and it may set the Democratic Party back decades in the state.


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What’s so shocking about it isn’t that payoffs were occurring, but that so many people knew they were occurring and did nothing about it.

well, it is a Democrat y’know…..

ted c on May 15, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Oh, this is a delicious Sunday palate cleanser…

OmahaConservative on May 15, 2011 at 4:04 PM

join the Dennis Chavez club….? WTF?

ted c on May 15, 2011 at 4:06 PM

The same Bill Richardson who lied about Monica Lewinsky in 1998???

Ambassador Bill Richardson apparently lied when he said at his recent confirmation hearings that a UN job he offered to Monica Lewinsky last year was to fill an existing opening. As a result of this apparent deception, and the great lengths to which Richardson went in order to explain the job offer after the Lewinsky scandal broke publicly, Senator Frank Murkowski of Alaska, who chairs the Senate committee which confirmed Richardson as Energy secretary, has sent a letter to President Clinton urging him to hold off swearing Richardson in to his new post.

Say it ain’t so!

Roy Rogers on May 15, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Judge Lisa Schultz was warned on more than one occasion that she was risking her personal safety in pursuing the corruption, by more than one judge.

Gangster Government comes to New Mexico, eh?

This is reprehensible. If there was an honorable Dem left in America, they would be leading the charge to clean up their party.

INC on May 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM

so much for an impartial judiciary, eh?

ted c on May 15, 2011 at 4:11 PM

I wonder what Alcee Hastings has to say??

ted c on May 15, 2011 at 4:12 PM

I thought Chicago was north of New Mexico.

percysunshine on May 15, 2011 at 4:12 PM

I’m sure crr has no problem with this.

ladyingray on May 15, 2011 at 4:13 PM

At least we know this will be a Crr Free thread.

CWforFreedom on May 15, 2011 at 4:13 PM

I wonder what Alcee Hastings has to say??

ted c on May 15, 2011 at 4:12 PM

“B!tch, set me up!”

VegasRick on May 15, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Since the subject matter is scandals, here is more about another dozy:

The Official ATF Field Manual of the Gunwalker Scandal: “This report might as well be the outline for Gunwalker hearing questions.”

Insert witty screen name here on May 15, 2011 at 4:16 PM

The slide of the United States into a third world country status continues unabated. Chicago Justice: The best justice that money can buy!

sharrukin on May 15, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Hey, these appointments are valuable bleeping things.

rbj on May 15, 2011 at 4:19 PM

“B!tch, set me up!”

VegasRick on May 15, 2011 at 4:14 PM

HEH!!

ted c on May 15, 2011 at 4:20 PM

There was a time when I thought Bill Richardson was the only good guy and the only voice of reason in the Democratic party.

As Agatha Christie wrote…

And Then There Were None.

Chris of Rights on May 15, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Only 4 thousand bucks??? Surely there’s a zero missing.

BuzzCrutcher on May 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Only 4 thousand bucks??? Surely there’s a zero missing.

BuzzCrutcher on May 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM

It’s in the White House.

Roy Rogers on May 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM

This is the same clown who thought he could get away with lying about being drafted by the A’s.

flyfisher on May 15, 2011 at 4:28 PM

So, outside of the Richardson connections, even just these charges brings this judge’s previous decisions into the ‘mistrial’ category, no ?? Forgive if I’ve used the incorrect word for it… methinks y’all know what I mean. Maybe I watch too much ‘Law and Order’ .. LOL.

pambi on May 15, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Only 4 thousand bucks??? Surely there’s a zero missing.

BuzzCrutcher on May 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM

They make up for it in volume sales.

This is why a few million dollars can buy a lot of politicians. They sell themselves cheap.

sharrukin on May 15, 2011 at 4:30 PM

A judgeship for only $4,000? That’s cheap by Illinois standards.

Special Forces Grunt on May 15, 2011 at 4:31 PM

“demonrats” is more apropos everyday. Not an honest one in the bunch.

tim c on May 15, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Not shocked at all. He worked for the Clintons and looks like he picked up some of their bad habits.

Of course, this is probably how most Dems operate if we had someone with a little backbone to investigate properly.

Sporty1946 on May 15, 2011 at 4:32 PM

The speculation about physical threats is shocking, if there turns out to be any basis for it.

And $4000 is awfully cheap, Bill.

Seth Halpern on May 15, 2011 at 4:34 PM

…it may set the Democratic Party back decades in the state.

Ed, these are Democrats we’re talking about. Not as serious as Rep. Gerry Studds, who received standing o’s from constituents following Congressional censure.

eeyore on May 15, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Hey, four K here and 4 K there, pretty soon it adds up to some serious cash.

Here in the great state of New Mexico we are pretty cheap. But we make up for it in volumn sales.

Lincoln Cadillac on May 15, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Can you imagine what else is hidden under the rocks? Everywhere? Scarey thought.

karenhasfreedom on May 15, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Forget it, Jake. It’s Santa Fe.

Rhinoboy on May 15, 2011 at 4:42 PM

This is reprehensible. If there was an honorable Dem left in America, they would be leading the charge to clean up their party.

INC on May 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Lisa Schultz appears to be that Democrat.

But what’s really cute is this. Notice that Lisa contributed to “Bill Richardson for President”. Many questions.

unclesmrgol on May 15, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Ed, these are Democrats we’re talking about. Not as serious as Rep. Gerry Studds, who received standing o’s from constituents following Congressional censure.

eeyore on May 15, 2011 at 4:35 PM

He wasn’t a priest, so he gets a pass.

unclesmrgol on May 15, 2011 at 4:44 PM

I’ll have something to talk about this afternoon while I’m tangoing on the Plaza.

Seth Halpern on May 15, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Only 4 thousand bucks??? Surely there’s a zero missing.

BuzzCrutcher on May 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM

That part about where they have to write a check every week for as much as they can afford explains why it is so cheap. Once you get in they own you and you have to keep paying, so it isn’t really worth much to buy into that lifestyle. They have to keep each payment under $10K to stay under the IRS radar.

pedestrian on May 15, 2011 at 4:50 PM

I’m sure crr has no problem with this.

ladyingray on May 15, 2011 at 4:13 PM

No such thing as a Democrat Activist Judge in her world.

Del Dolemonte on May 15, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Racist, questioning this Hispanic outstanding citizen, well, I guess he is a US citizen.

WoosterOh on May 15, 2011 at 4:52 PM

OT Racist Southern rednecks went crazy for Herman Cain yesterday
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Stayright on May 15, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Richardson HAD to be on Obama’s short list for VP in 12.

Scratch him.

artist on May 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

…Osborn urged Schultz to “consider referring this matter to the Judicial Standards Commission and to do so without delay.”

Schultz didn’t want to do that. She wrote in her journal that the majority of the commission’s members were appointed by Richardson, and the commission, which investigates ethical complaints against judges, had power over her.

Schultz wrote that she believed “the scheme also involved Governor Richardson,” and she did not feel comfortable “turning in Governor Richardson to his own board.”

This seems to be an unsatisfactory arrangement from the start; an open invitation to corruption and a disincentive to whistle-blowers.

hillbillyjim on May 15, 2011 at 5:00 PM

You know what is so funny about this… Americans think they live in a democracy.
What difference is there to bribery and corruption in dictatorships in Latin America and what is happening all the time in the US?
The media is complicit by not telling the “stupid” population what is really going on because they can’t handle it. The various levels of government operate on who you know, who you contribute funds to and how much and what you can do for someone. The system is set up so only two parties exist for voters. Some democracy that is.
The Unites States…. another banana republic.

PhilipJames on May 15, 2011 at 5:01 PM

So, outside of the Richardson connections, even just these charges brings this judge’s previous decisions into the ‘mistrial’ category, no ?? Forgive if I’ve used the incorrect word for it… methinks y’all know what I mean. Maybe I watch too much ‘Law and Order’ .. LOL.

pambi on May 15, 2011 at 4:29 PM

hmmm, if a judge is convicted of fraud how does that related to all the cases he/she adjudicated? If “judge jones” convicted me of crime “x”and then was found to be …errrr…impartial, how does this affect me?

NY Conservative on May 15, 2011 at 5:03 PM

hmmm, if a judge is convicted of fraud …, how does this affect me?

NY Conservative on May 15, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Depends on how much money you have.

pedestrian on May 15, 2011 at 5:07 PM

A judgeship for only $4,000? That’s cheap by Illinois standards.

Special Forces Grunt on May 15, 2011 at 4:31 PM

heck, that much scratch falls under the table when Daley and his pals are “takin’ care of business..”…

ted c on May 15, 2011 at 5:10 PM

I used to discount these stories. Why would a governor risk his career for $4K?

This article reveals the answer. Hundreds of people, maybe thousands, were paying him, off the books. It adds up.

PattyJ on May 15, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Richardson HAD to be on Obama’s short list for VP in 12.

Scratch him.

artist on May 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Instead we got the guy who rode the short bus.

rbj on May 15, 2011 at 5:16 PM

What about Janet?

SouthernGent on May 15, 2011 at 5:18 PM

This story makes me appreciate Hawaii’s way of selecting judges even more. I have never liked the idea of judges running for office because I thought they might make decisions based on votes and not make the tough, unpopular BUT LAWFUL rulings. However, as is seen here, direct appointment is not better. Hawaii has a judicial selection committee. The committee prepares a list of names (yea there are probably politics in the compilation of this list admittedly) and the names go out and comments are solicited then the governor selects a name and legislature has to confirm the selection. It’s not perfect, but has more integrity than being able to buy a judgeship for $4,000.

HawaiiLwyr on May 15, 2011 at 5:22 PM

What?!?!?!?!?!?!

“…corruption allegations in NM may involve Bill Richardson”

Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!

Wait Wait, lemme get my shocked face……..I have it here someplace…….

wait……..

wait……..

RealMc on May 15, 2011 at 5:22 PM

What about Janet?

SouthernGent on May 15, 2011 at 5:18 PM

Could we be so lucky………….?

RealMc on May 15, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Just goes to show Republicans get investigated while in office. Democrats when the leave office.

William Amos on May 15, 2011 at 5:32 PM

The corruption of the left is never punished by the voters or talked about by the media.

aigle on May 15, 2011 at 5:38 PM

So New Mexico politics are just like Chicago politics. No wonder Bill and Barry are such buddies.

GarandFan on May 15, 2011 at 5:39 PM

OT: Sarah Palin is back in that US Election News poll, but now Herman Cain has been removed as a choice.

As 2012 GOP Respond, Who Benefits Most From Huckabee’s Decision Not To Run?

Stayright on May 15, 2011 at 5:42 PM

Only $4,000? Richardson’s a cheap date. Considering so many New Mexicans are on public assistance, maybe 4 grand is a lot of money there.

Philly on May 15, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Slouching toward Berkeley Santa Fe. It’s liberalism: the corruption is a feature not a bug.

LastRick on May 15, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Gosh. That poop smell is coming from poop!

Limerick on May 15, 2011 at 6:11 PM

Look at it this way, if the grifter is negotiating with Lil Kim just what has the grifter given Lil Kim to sing and dance?

Limerick on May 15, 2011 at 6:12 PM

Just when Bill Richardson appeared to be in the clear on corruption charges in New Mexico,

In the clear? Don’t be absurd. He was guilty as sin; the justice department just unilaterally dropped all charges (does “The New Black Panther Party” ring any bells?). Everyone in NM (and most of the rest of the country) knew he was guilty.

rmgraha on May 15, 2011 at 6:13 PM

What’s so shocking about it isn’t that payoffs were occurring, but that so many people knew they were occurring and did nothing about it.

“Miprsion of Felony ” http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sec_18_00000004—-000-.html

davidk on May 15, 2011 at 6:16 PM

Misprision

davidk on May 15, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Richardson isn’t out of the woods at all in New Mexico. This should get very, very interesting, and it may set the Democratic Party back decades in the state.

Why Richardson had all his records sealed, with crooks even today keeping them sealed.

“The Left are holier than thou” — crr6

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Media, get out of Obama’s ars and look more into this guy’s actions. Find out how many he paid off, during his tenure, but especially right ahead of leaving. It’s all around you, you derelict louts.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2011 at 6:26 PM

When corruption and breaking of laws is standard operatng procedures for demonrats, especially at the top, why is it a surprise that no one wastes time reporting it? It has always been there and nothing can stop it.

volsense on May 15, 2011 at 6:40 PM

corruption within the democrat party…you don’t say….

will the alphabet networks actually report this?

*not holding breath*

cmsinaz on May 15, 2011 at 6:53 PM

At least we know this will be a Crr Free thread.

CWforFreedom on May 15, 2011 at 4:13 PM

lololol

cmsinaz on May 15, 2011 at 6:53 PM

crr6 is still too busy looking for the missing 8,000 votes for Kloppy in Wisconsin to comment on these worthless allegations…

As far as the ALLEGED corruption in NM, nothing to see here… Move along…

Khun Joe on May 15, 2011 at 7:08 PM

I am shocked to the core that Gov. Richardson may be corrupt. My faith in Clinton Democrats is now lost. Lost forever.

kringeesmom on May 15, 2011 at 7:11 PM

4 grand? What is Richardson, a crack head? I wonder if he told anyone they had to pay him eleventy.

Rational Thought on May 15, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Where are those half-wits GM and MJBrutus from the Indiana thread? You know, the ones who think the judiciary and law will help them in cases of illegal entry?

It would be funny if it were not so frightening.

kim roy on May 15, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Now hold on: shouldn’t conservatives be supporting low-cost judgeships? Heck, at $4000 a pop, anyone can aspire to greatness!

PersonFromPorlock on May 15, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Why does Bill Richardson remind me of Porky Pig???

OmahaConservative on May 15, 2011 at 8:19 PM

What party does Bill Richardson belong to? Let me check the article…. No mention of party, so he must be a Democrat. If he were a Republican, it would have been in the freaking article title and opening line.

Dandapani on May 15, 2011 at 8:29 PM

Damn.

Why does this surprise anyone?

For a moment here I thought this was a blog post about a news report.

But as it turns out the only real news here is that anybody is shocked.

Mcguyver on May 15, 2011 at 8:40 PM

Politicians as a general rule are corrupt. I’ve taken that to the bank many times and been proven right. Two groups have proven to be corrupt time and time again. The first group favor big government and work with big business to make sure both are happy. The second group is democrats. I am certain there are fewer uncorrupted Democrats than Republicans. I am not betting on the ratio.

Some of the uncorrupted have integrity mashed into their very souls and self-identities so hard they could not begin to contemplate corruption. McCain is probably one of that group. (That does not mean he is not an ill-advised muddy thinker.) Others are like Biden, too dumb to be corrupt and get away with it, know this, so elect to keep their fingers out of the cookie jar.

Heh, just had a fun thought. Put all new (and existing) politicians through a conditioning program. Don’t condition them to be honest. That’s not possible. Condition them to brag about their dishonesty and give them selves up in other ways. Call it a “Scared Straight” program.

{^_^}

herself on May 15, 2011 at 8:53 PM

This is a raaaaacist witch-hunt led by the Koch Brothers./

Buy Danish on May 15, 2011 at 8:54 PM

There was a reason Bill Clinton went to Bill Richardson when he needed to find an out-of-town sinecure for Monica Lewinsky, once the intern/BJ provider had become a problem for him.

Richardson is as dirty and corrupt as they come.

AZCoyote on May 15, 2011 at 9:28 PM

New corruption allegations in NM may involve Bill Richardson

Democrats and corruption, two peas in a pod.

rukiddingme on May 15, 2011 at 9:53 PM

herself on May 15, 2011 at 8:53 PM

You know, I think you’re onto something there!

I agree, politicians are almost inherently corrupt. Politics is all about clout, and you get at least as much from one hand washing the other as you do from peddling yourself to the people with insufficient cynicism. To a certain extent, you really can’t accomplish anything positive without a little bit of stuff the public might find corrupt.

And then you take into account the incentive structure shaping the political marketplace. Although people do put a premium on honesty (to the extent that they can distinguish it from dishonesty) and character, even the most informed voters are generalizing character assessments from a very small, very biased sample of that person’s behavior. On top of that, it’s an extremely degrading process, if you think about it. Often you’re literally going door to door trying to convince a person who thinks you’re an a-hole that you’re actually alright. So the people who are able to get into elected office are the people that want power enough to work long hours shamelessly degrading themselves and are the best at filling your sample of their behavior with actions that will make you think they’re good people.
Some actually do care enough to go through the process just to make the world a better place, and their public behavior makes them look good because, deep down they are actually good. I have more respect for those few than I can put into words. But statistically speaking, considering that those appearances can be manufactured, it’s much easier to manipulate the sample than it is to be an actually good person (and you can actually do a better job at it, as you can work around situations where doing the right thing looks bad) and the willingness to degrade yourself for power/approval is at least as much of a driver in human behavior as the willingness to degrade yourself to make the world a better place, it’s ultimately irrational to expect anything but a large percentage of politicians being corrupt.

And the incentive towards the corruption (and the draw for the corrupt) is almost 1:1 related to the amount of money at play, so the corrupting and the corrupt will both be drawn more towards where there’s competitive advantage in increasing the size of the pot. So naturally the bigger government types will have a greater % of corrupt politicians, although for a lot of politicians actual ideology is a secondary concern at best.

galenrox on May 16, 2011 at 1:35 AM

herself on May 15, 2011 at 8:53 PM

The first group favor big government and work with big business to make sure both are happy. The second group is democrats. I am certain there are fewer uncorrupted Democrats than Republicans. I am not betting on the ratio.

Huh? I don’t see that at all…I tend to think if you are a democrat you are corrupted.

tinkerthinker on May 16, 2011 at 7:59 AM

What’s so shocking about it isn’t that payoffs were occurring, but that so many people knew they were occurring and did nothing about it.

Why is that shocking? This is the democrat party…and $4,000 (as stated) is so cheap it’s embarrassing.

right2bright on May 16, 2011 at 8:00 AM

TERM LIMITS…..

adamsmith on May 16, 2011 at 8:48 AM

May ? this is N.M may has nothing to do with it.

MES401067 on May 16, 2011 at 9:41 AM