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.
“They’re looking at everything related to CDR,” William Sisneros, the finance agency’s chief executive officer, said of the FBI probe. “They’re just trying to evaluate all the relationships to see what CDR was doing for the money.”
Bloomberg says the investigation is part of a nationwide effort to investigate pay-to-play deals in the municipal bond market.
This is more bad news for President-elect Obama. The Illinois corruption investigation threatens to consume his administration before it even takes office. His choice for Attorney General, Eric Holder, now appears to be facing confirmation obstacles due to his past questionable dealings. Holder, incidentally, once performed legal work for Gov. Blagoyevich's administration on the awarding of a casino license. Holder's work irked Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who felt he was encroaching into matters within her jurisdiction. Madigan petitioned the Illlinois Supreme Court on Friday to relieve the governor from his duties at least temporarily due to alleged "disability."