Thursday, January 8, 2009
AN OLD CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION
When Gov. Bill Richardson announced he was withdrawing his nomination for U.S. Commerce secretary because of a grand jury investigation of a potential case of pay-to-play, several national pundits commented that he was the second governor connected with President-elect Barack Obama facing such scandals — the other being Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
There’s actually another connection between Richardson and Blagojevich — a $20,000 campaign contribution from Richardson to the Illinois governor’s PAC.
The contribution to Friends of Blagojevich, dated Nov. 6, 2006 — one day before the general election — was reported in December 2006 by Richardson’s re-election campaign.
Richardson won that election with nearly 70 percent of the vote. In that race he raised more than $13 million.
It’s not uncommon for politicians to contribute to each other’s campaigns. Much of Richardson’s campaign money that year went to other Democrats in New Mexico plus Democratic organizations in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where Richardson would spend much of the next year campaigning for president.
Neither Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos nor re-election campaign official Amanda Cooper could immediately be reached for comment.
A federal grand jury in Albuquerque is investigating whether there was pressure in 2004 to hire CDR Financial Products, a California company that did work on state Transportation bonds. The company and its chief executive officer David Rubin contributed more than $100,000 to Richardson political committees.
In Illinois, Blagojevich was arrested in December after federal investigators caught him on a wire tap discussing selling Obama’s open Senate seat. A federal prosecutor said Obama is not suspected in any wrongdoing in that case.
UPDATE 11:22 am : Loyal readers will recall the "French Connection" drug deal involving Richardson and Blago that I reported last month. (Don't worry. Nothing really scanalous there.)
UPDATE 12:24 pm: The original version mistakenly said the $20K was from Blagovevich to Richardson. The contribution, as the story now says, was from Richardson.