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Best Local Political Scandal

…It’s Hard to Just Pick One, Isn’t It?

July 22, 2009, 12:00 am

1 Pay to Play and Gov. Bill Richardson
SFR was a little sad when Gov. Richardson and New Mexico’s pay-to-play scandal emerged as readers’ No. 1 pick in this category. Not because we disagree, but because explaining this complicated multifaceted story in 100 words or so may be impossible. With a broad brush, here are six talking points you can use if it comes up at party:

1. “Pay to play” refers generally to the idea of companies and people receiving state business, contracts et al in exchange for making political contributions.

In regard to the federal investigation that kicked all this off, the term refers to the allegation that CDR Financial Products received a $1.5 million contract in exchange for donations it made to Richardson-related political action committees.

2. The grand jury investigation into this situation is the reason Richardson had to bow out as Obama’s commerce secretary.

3. No one has been indicted as of yet, but the grand jury investigation was reportedly given to the US Attorney General’s Office.

4. GRIP-gate is not a catchy name for this scandal, but it refers to Governor Richardson’s Investment Partnership, the project for which CDR performed complicated financial services.

5. It’s entirely possible readers weren’t thinking of GRIP-gate per se or pay to play in general. They might have been thinking of the other ongoing investigation into the millions and millions and millions of dollars politically connected (to Richardson) “third party marketers,” such as Marc Correra, made from helping companies secure finance-related state contracts via the State Investment Council. This scandal also is at the heart of at least two lawsuits and the subject of yet another Justice Department probe.

6. Gov. Richardson has denied any wrongdoing.

2 The Indictments of PRC Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. and His Father, Jerome Block Sr.
3 Former State Sen. Manny Aragon and the Bernalillo County Courthouse Scandal

 

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