Thursday, December 18, 2008

TROUBLE FOR BILL RICHARDSON

Steve Terrell, The New Mexican - Gov. Bill Richardson . . . was able to dodge questions about the grand jury looking into a possible pay-for-play regarding a Beverly Hills, Calif., financial firm that was awarded nearly $1.5 million in work for the state around the same time the firm was making huge contributions to Richardson's political action committees.

As has been well reported by myself and others, at a news conference about a new solar energy production facility in Belen, Richardson took a few questions about the new project. Then he announced the news conference was over and made a beeline for the door.

I was on the wrong end of the big marble table in the Governor's Cabinet Room, so I was hoping some of my colleagues would be able to block the governor's retreat for a few seconds so I could reach him. But Richardson went through them like a knife through hot butter, not acknowledging the questions. He ignored questions about the investigation shouted at him and, according to reporters near him at the time, never made eye contact. . .

The national political chattering class has begun paying attention to Richardson's grand jury. Consider this item in MSNBC's First Read blog on Tuesday. Under the headline "Did Obama's vetters know this?" the blog asks, "Is Bill Richardson headed for a tougher-than-expected confirmation hearing?"

After stating the general facts of the case, First Read continues, "Does the (Illinois Gov. Rod) Blagojevich pay-to-play scandal give this news more scrutiny? The it's-just-politics defense was probably enough to keep Senate vetters from digging too deep on this BB (Before Blagojevich). . . Bottom line for those looking for the one Obama cabinet pick who will face confirmation trouble: You may want to move your chips off of Holder and on to Richardson." . . . Concluded the National Review, "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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