The Campaign Spot

More Allegations of ‘Pay for Play’ Surrounding Obama Cabinet Official

Could President-elect Obama soon have to look for a new commerce secretary?

Notice this story from Bloomberg:

A federal grand jury is investigating how a company that advised Jefferson County, Alabama, on bond deals that threaten to cause the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, did similar work in New Mexico after making contributions to Governor Bill Richardson’s political action committees.

The grand jury in Albuquerque is looking into Beverly Hills, California-based CDR Financial Products, Inc. which received almost $1.5 million in fees from the New Mexico Finance Authority in 2004 after donating $100,000 to Richardson’s efforts to register Hispanic and American Indian voters and pay for expenses at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, people familiar with the matter said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation asked current and former officials from the state agency if any staff members in the governor’s office influenced CDR’s hiring, said the people, who declined to be identified because the proceedings are secret. Richardson, who is President-elect Barack Obama’s designate for Commerce Secretary, has a staff of at least 30 people . . .

The company denies wrongdoing, and Richardson’s spokeman said, “The Governor’s Office is aware of questions surrounding some financial transactions at the New Mexico Finance Authority. We expect any state agency that is approached with questions to cooperate with federal officials.”

Maybe this FBI investigation will go nowhere. But in a post-Blagojevich environment, the Obama administration is probably going to be extra wary of associating with government officials under criminal  investigation.


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