From the Albuquerque Journal:
"Gov. Bill Richardson has withdrawn from his nomination as U.S. commerce secretary, citing concerns about the timing of a federal grand jury investigation involving his administration in New Mexico."
Note the waffle: "citing concerns about the TIMING of a federal grand jury investigation." Not the FACT that there is a federal grand jury investigating Richardson's operation.
According to the Journal, this all has to do with a California financial firm, CDR Financial Programs of Beverly Hills "which received $1.4 million for its work" on a bond issue.
"The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office want to know how" a California financial firm, CDR Financial Programs of Beverly Hills, "got hired in 2004 to work on the $1.6 billion bond issue used to fund highway projects and the Rail Runner commuter train."
What they think happened was the chief executive of the California firm made two contributions totaling [at least] $85,000 to political organizations attached to Richardson. Here's why it raised the eyebrows of the feds:
"The first came six days after CDR was hired as a special adviser on the bond deal; the second was four days before Finance Authority staff recommended the company get the no-bid deal to manage the escrow account."
Whoa! Check, please (literally)! The no-bid deal? Not only a no-bid deal but there doesn't appear to be (what we in the business world would normally call) a contract involved, either. Again from the Albuquerque Journal:
"If you want to look at the formal contracts, you're out of luck. There don't appear to be any."
I know that's way more than you want to know about what the case is all about. Me, too. But that's not the part that is of interest.
President-elect Barack Obama announced the nomination of Peso Bill on December 3. The Journal published the existence of the investigation in August - some four months before Obama tapped Richardson.
The question, then, is: What did Peso Bill tell Obama about the status of that investigation and what his connection might be?
Are no-bid-no-contract million dollar deals in return for campaign donations so pervasive among Obama's political cronies that he and Richardson had a good laugh about it and walked out onto the stage in Chicago to announce the nomination?
Did Richardson promise to shave that cheesy beard if Obama would ignore the existence of a federal grand jury looking into just how Bill did business in Albuquerque?