Today's New York Times has the best

written so far on the nationwide bid-rigging investigation that's snared up a campaign contributor to Gov. Bill Richardson, CDR Financial Products, and stalled Richardson's hopes of working in the Obama administration.

Here's the heart of the scandal reduced to a quote:

Christopher Taylor, who retired in 2007 as executive director of the [IRS] Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, said the evidence amassed so far included tape-recorded phone calls, in which the independent specialists who are supposed to help local governments pick their bankers could be heard telling bankers: "We want you to bid on this deal, but you're not going to get it — you're going to get the next one. We want you to submit a sloppy bid."

The feds' investigation suggests another level of corruption: That Richardson's team, in turn, rigged the selection of those supposedly "independent specialists," steering business to firms like CDR that contributed to Richardson's campaigns. Of course, there's been no charge to that effect, so far.

Meanwhile, some key players — in particular, Richardson's friend Mike Stratton, whose

lobbied the New Mexico Finance Authority on behalf of CDR — continue to duck reporters' calls.

When SFR reached his office yesterday, a secretary said that Stratton was traveling on "an open-ended ticket. Whenever his work is done, he'll be back."

We're guessing that'll be around the time this all blows over.

Another tidbit — in a

, The New Mex's Steve Terrell paraphrased former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias as "stressing he's not involved in the investigation" into CDR and Richardson.

Reached by SFR, Iglesias clarifies that his comments to Terrell were "

strictly about grand jury procedure — I'm not commenting on the investigation and how long it's been going on


Well, we know it must've started before

, when the feds raided CDR's offices in Beverly Hills. If this were an entirely politically motivated investigation, you'd think the timing of those raids would've been a little better.