Two Views on the Dismissal of the Richardson Charges
Last Friday I had a post about the Justice Department’s dismissal of a public corruption case against New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. The AP reported that sources within Justice said the investigation had been killed in Washington. More evidence of that possibility comes from a letter sent by the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico, Gregory Fouratt, who is not an Obama political appointee, but a career lawyer appointed by the federal judges in his circuit to fill the vacancy in the U.S. Attorney’s office. The purpose of the letter was to notify Richardson and his political donor, a company called CDR, that the “United States will not seek to bring charges.” But the letter goes on to say that CDR and its officers “made substantial contributions to Governor Richardson’s political organization during the time that the company sought financial work” with the state government and “pressure from the governor’s office resulted in the corruption of the procurement process so that CDR would be awarded such work.” The notification letter “is not to be interpreted as an exoneration of any party’s conduct.”
This is a very unusual letter, as anyone who has worked at the Justice Department can tell you. If one takes the innocent view, it could mean that Fouratt was telling the defendants that he knows they acted corruptly and illegally but they just got by with it because he does not have quite enough evidence to go to a jury with, but he is keeping his eye on them. On the other hand, if you take a more cynical and jaundiced view, especially given the apparent political nature of many decisions in the Holder DOJ, the content of this letter supposedly clearing Richardson provides evidence that the AP story was correct and it was not the decision of the U.S. Attorney to dismiss this case. Fouratt came as close as he could to saying that in the letter without doing so directly. You don’t have to do much reading between the lines to see that Fouratt may have been angry about being told by his political bosses in D.C. to dismiss an investigation that had revealed “corruption of the procurement process” by the governor’s office. But none of the media denizens of the press like the Washington Post or the New York Times are interested in this story from any standpoint other than reporting that Richardson, a political ally of President Obama, is now free and clear of a federal investigation because of claimed intervention by the president’s political appointees at Justice.