Thursday, August 27, 2009
TV NEWS: FEDS WILL NOT INDICT BIG BILL OR TOP AIDES IN CDR PAY-TO-PLAY CASE; GUV IN CUBA AS BIG NEWS BREAKS; WILL REPORT MISSION FINDINGS TO OBAMA
It looks as though Governor Bill Richardson's year from hell is over. KRQE-TV news reported on its Wednesday 10 p.m. broadcast that neither the Governor or his former top aides--Dave Contarino or David Harris--will be subjected to federal indictments in the CDR bond case. The station cited anonymous sources in breaking the news of the conclusion of the probe that began last August. It was reported by veteran journalist Michael Herzenberg. He said there would be no formal announcement of the decision, but that "it could become known" as soon as today. My Legal Beagles say that implies that the good news for the Guv is coming from the attorneys involved in the case. A state official said in June that the CDR case was on the desk of US Attorney General Eric Holder awaiting his decision on how to proceed.
The leak came as the Governor was traveling on a trade mission in Cuba. Notably, Big Bill was quoted by the AP as saying he will report his findings of that mission to the White House. Last week the Guv conducted meetings in Santa Fe with North Korean diplomats giving rise to speculation that such meetings would not occur if he or his top aides were in danger of indictment. However, the feds are also looking into state investments to see if there was any "pay to play" there, so the coast is not entirely clear for Richardson, but it is sure looking mighty uncluttered.
Speculators, Alligators and Wall-leaners were back burning the midnight oil in the wake of the KRQE stunner, saying Richardson's increased national and international profile, along with the news that here will be no CDR indictments might lead to a formal envoy role for Bill. That would represent a full scale political revival for the two term Governor who was forced to withdraw his nomination as Commerce Secretary in the wake of the CDR scandal.
There is rarely a formal Justice announcement that a case is no longer being pursued. We wondered aloud about that policy on this blog this week. But it appears Richardson is getting as close to such an announcement as possible, but not from the government. You can bet he is looking to light up one of those big Cuban cigars as he basks in the warm climes of Cuba and digests this latest news.
WEE HOURS ANALYSIS
Into the early morning hours burned the kerosene fueled lamps at the Alligator pond. The no indictment news was immediately read as a blow to the possible 2010 Guv hopes of former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson as well as the other lesser-known R hopefuls. Without heavy scandal hanging over Bill, Heather was seen as less likely to pull the trigger and get in the game. But Diane Denish, the far away front runner for the Dem nod, was not exhaling just yet. As noted above, the federal grand jury remains active on pay to play, but the Gators agreed that probe may also be losing steam. Without Heather, the GOP would have to turn to a back-bencher, just what the doctor ordered for Di, but perhaps a deadly prescription for the R's.
That Bill and his boys won't be posting bail anytime soon gave Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico a breather. They were just inundated with the news that former Sec. of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron has been indicted by a state grand jury and they also had to endure serious legal speculation that Heather could be in jeopardy as a a federal grand jury looks into the US attorney scandal. In a state where the word "indictment" is one of the first learned by pre-schoolers, the breather was as welcome as the first chile harvest in Hatch.
Here’s an e-mail making the rounds from ABQ Democratic State Senator Linda Lopez as she plans a formal entry into the Dem race for lieutenant governor on Sept. 5th:
We will kick-off at 9:30 am at Washington Park near Washington Middle School. It will last for one hour--ending at 10:30-ish. We will have burritos, pastries, coffee, juice and water. Agnes and Lori will work on the food.
Mariachis will be contacted by Dolores. Sylvia will arrange for the sound system. Will check to see if a hot air balloon is feasible for that morning. We will have 3 persons (groups) introduce me before I speak. I will speak for 5 minutes.
Light Guv candidates seem more plentiful than the summer monsoons. And we have no shortage of GOP Guv candidates. We blogged a couple of weeks ago of the plans of ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones to formally enter the Guv race this Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Sheraton Uptown.
That menu for Lopez’s opener sounds enticing. Wonder if Janice will match it. We don’t expect much from these politico in the food department any more. The old days of trays of goodies seem to be fading or gone. That hit home last year when we attended a rally for Big Bill’s presidential campaign in ABQ’s South Valley. They served peanuts and bottled water to keep expenses down. And then there was Republican Steve Pearce's Valley rally for his US Senate campaign where he served hot dogs. What? They were going to cook them in the ground, pull them out and hold a fake matanza?!
The Kennedy’s have had a long and affectionate relationship with New Mexico and the death of Ted Kennedy this week is being mourned widely, especially in the Spanish North where the Kennedy commitment to civil rights and eradicating poverty endeared them with multiple generations. No Kennedy ever lost an election in New Mexico and that includes 1980 when Ted Kennedy won the state’s presidential primary in which he challenged incumbent Dem President Jimmy Carter. He is pictured here today with NM talk radio pioneer Mike Santullo at a 1980 fund-raiser at the old Four Seasons Hotel in ABQ, raising money for that presidential campaign. The Senator's then-wife, Joan, looks on. Kennedy last visited New Mexico in 2008 to campaign for Obama in ABQ and up north.
The Bernalillo County Democratic Party will hold a candle light vigil to honor Kennedy tonight at 8 p.m. It will be held at Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque; participants are asked to bring their own candles.
I first met Senator Kennedy, in 1974, at the old ABQ Civic Auditorium on a crisp fall morning at 7 a.m. He was here to fire up a rally for ABQ congressional candidate Roberto Mondragon who had served as NM’s Lt. Gov. The early time was no problem for the blue collar, working class crowd that adored Kennedy. The rally was for them. He delivered a stem-winder and sent them off to their jobs all abuzz.
Roberto lost that congressional contest to incumbent GOP US Rep. Manuel Lujan, but the Kennedy rally was one of the highlights of his political career. And it was one of the highlights in our life as well.
Ted Kennedy was 77.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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