Rolling Stone: How ‘pay to play’ worked for Bill Richardson
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It’s really long, really damning and a portion of it features Bill Richardson.
It’s a sprawling, 7,400-word article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine by Matt Taibbi about rigging bids on municipal bonds across the country.But unlike a lot of stories about “pay to play” and insider trading, this one actually led to convictions of three guys who worked for GE Capital, the financial arm of General Electric for taking part “in a breathtakingly broad scheme to skim billions of dollars from the coffers of cities and small towns across America.”
And smack dab in the middle of the article is this:
Even more startling was the way that a notorious incident involving former New Mexico governor and presidential candidate Bill Richardson resurfaced during the trial. Barack Obama, you may recall, had nominated Richardson to be commerce secretary – only to have the move blow up in his face when tales of Richardson accepting bribes began to make the rounds. Federal prosecutors never brought a case against Richardson: In 2009, an inside source told the AP that the investigation had been “killed in Washington.” Obama himself, after Richardson bowed out, praised the former governor as an “outstanding public servant.”
Now, in the Carollo trial, defense counsel got Doug Goldberg, the CDR broker, to admit that his boss, Stewart Wolmark, had handed him an envelope containing a check for $25,000. The check was payable to none other than Moving America Forward – Bill Richardson’s political action committee. Goldberg then went to a Richardson fundraiser and handed the politician the envelope. Richardson, pleased, told Goldberg, “Tell the big guy I’m going to hire you guys.”
Goldberg admitted on the stand that he understood “the big guy” to mean Wolmark. After that came this amazing testimony:
Q: Soon after that, New Mexico hired CDR as its swap and GIC adviser on a $400 million deal, right?
Q: You learned later that that check in that envelope was a check for $25,000, right?
A: Yes. I learned it later.
Q: You also learned later that CDR gave another $75,000 to Gov. Richardson, right?
Q: CDR ended up making about a million dollars on this deal for those two checks?
Q: In fact, New Mexico not only hired CDR, they hired another firm to do the actual work that they needed done?
A: For the fixed-income stuff, yes.
What we get from this is that CDR paid Bill Richardson $100,000 in contributions and got $1.5 million in public money in return. And not just $1.5 million, but $1.5 million for work they didn’t even do – the state still had to hire another firm to do the actual job. Nice non-work, if you can get it.
A grand jury has been meeting in Albuquerque, reportedly looking into financial mismanagement allegations that dogged the Richardson administration from the get-go but after seven months, there is still nothing as far as any possible indictments or charges.
In the meantime, Richardson has walked away from reporters who have asked him about the proceedings (including Capitol Report New Mexico in this video) and has appeared on network and cable news shows talking about a number of political topics but no national TV hosts have asked him about the grand jury.
You can read the entire Rolling Stone article by clicking here.
Hat tip to the Santa Fe Reporter.