What do Bill Richardson and the New Black Panther Party have in common? Both got let off the hook by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Department of Justice. Holder, who recently announced a push to investigate and potentially prosecute CIA interrogators, will not prosecute the governor of New Mexico for his pay-for-play activities, which scotched his nomination for Secretary of Commerce:
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former high-ranking members of his administration won’t be criminally charged in a yearlong federal investigation into pay-to-play allegations involving one of the Democratic governor’s large political donors, someone familiar with the case said.
The decision not to pursue indictments was made by top Justice Department officials, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because federal officials had not disclosed results of the probe.
“It’s over. There’s nothing. It was killed in Washington,” the person told The Associated Press.
This marks the second time the DoJ has killed a prosecution for political allies of the administration. This time, though, the connection is a lot more explicit. Richardson was connected to Obama well enough to get a Cabinet appointment in the transition, later having to decline because of the federal probe into corruption in his administration in New Mexico.
The White House transition team knew about the pay-to-play scandal involving a California company, CDR Financial Products, well before Obama unwisely fêted Richardson’s ability to show “how government can act as a partner to support our businesses.” FBI and federal prosecutors launched their probe of CDR’s activities in New Mexico in the summer of 2008.
The feds had been digging into a nationwide web of favor-trading between financial firms and politicians overseeing local government bond markets. CDR was tied to a doomed bond deal in Alabama which, according to Bloomberg News, threatened to cause the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. CDR raked in nearly $1.5 million in fees from a New Mexico state financial agency after donating more than $100,000 to Richardson’s efforts to register Hispanic and American Indian voters and to pay for expenses at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the news service reported. The state agency that awarded the money consisted of five Richardson appointees and five members of his gubernatorial cabinet. CDR made contributions both shortly before and after securing consultant work with the state of New Mexico. CDR’s president also contributed $29,000 to Obama’s presidential campaign.
Apparently, the Obama administration and the Holder DoJ condone this activity, while pursuing the people who keep America safe from attack. It’s an interesting set of priorities, and unfortunately not much of a surprise.
So when do we get to hear protestations from House and Senate Democrats over the politicization of the DoJ? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?