Monday, January 19, 2009

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER RICHARDSON PAC SCANDAL

This time it's the Moving America Forward Foundation, which, in a story broken Sunday by The Albuquerque Journal, has collected some $1.7 in contributions.

The foundation is under no legal obligation to report contributors or expenditures. And, according to the story so far, foundation officials are keeping quiet.

Even though they legally are within their rights to do just that, but politically, in the face of the pay-to-play accusations Richardson is facing with CDR, etc., it seems that such secrecy would only fuel the fires of suspicion.

One interesting tidbit: One of the foundation's directors is Joe Velasquez of Reston, Va. He told the Journal in an e-mail, "I had nothing to do with the foundation. I ran the MAF (Moving America Forward) Committee," referring to Richardson's now defunct political action Committee.

As recently as 2006, Velasquez was a registered lobbyist in New Mexico for GEO Care Inc., which at the time managed the troubled 230-bed Fort Bayard Medical Center east of Silver City. GEO Care Inc. is part of the private prison corporation that runs several New Mexico prisons, and which has contributed 10s of thousands of dollars to Richardson's campaigns and other politcal activities. (GEO discontinued the Fort Bayard contract last year by mutual agreement with the state.)

Last time I wrote about The GEO Group, in July, the company had contributed $43,750 to Richardson's 2006 reelection. Two other GEO lobbyists registered in the state contributed a total of $7,500 to Richardson's 2006 race. And while Richardson was chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association, GEO kicked in $30,000 to that organization (though it contributed more than $90,000 to the Republican Governor's Association during those years.) GEO and its board chairman George Zoley kicked in another $15,000 for Richardson's 2007 inauguration.

The company's PAC and GEO executives contributed a total of $16,500 to Richardson's presidential campaign.

Richardson spokesmen have repeatedly denied any link between GEO's contributions and the company's lucrative business with New Mexico. (In 2006 the contracts were estimated at $38 million, but that was before the new GEO-managed prison in Clayton was built. GEO also manages the prisons in Hobbs and Santa Rosa.)

According to the Secretary of State's lobbyist index, currently GEO has no registered lobbyists in the state.

Did GEO contribute to the Moving America Forward Foundation? I don't know, that information is secret.

1 comment:

  1. I read the story, best quotes:

    SOME OF THE OFFICERS LISTED ON IRS DOCUMENTS, AND THEIR COMMENTS:

    "I was sort of a figurehead president. ... I didn't even get any reports."

    FOUNDATION PRESIDENT ED ROMERO

    "I can't comment on that."

    PAID CONSULTANT AMANDA COOPER, WHO OTHERS SAID HAD DONOR INFORMATION

    Had "almost no interaction"

    with foundation. Unaware of any meetings or Web site.

    BOARD SECRETARY LORETTA ARMENTA

    "I had nothing to do with the foundation. I ran the MAF Committee."

    BOARD MEMBER JOE VELASQUEZ

    To see more of the Albuquerque Journal, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.abqjournal.com.

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