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Bill Richardson’s own pay-to-play scandal?

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 16, 2008 04:44 PM

Farewell, Hope and Change.

Hello, Pay To Play.

Wonder if Bill Richardson will translate this mess into Spanish for us, too:

A federal grand jury is investigating whether a financial firm improperly won more than $1.4 million in work for the state of New Mexico shortly after making contributions to political action committees of Gov. Bill Richardson (D).

The probe focuses on whether the governor’s office urged a state agency to hire CDR Financial Products. The probe is in a highly active stage at a time when President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Richardson as his nominee for secretary of commerce, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

The grand jury in Albuquerque is expected to hear testimony today from several key witnesses, including officials at Richard’s political action committees and bankers at J.P. Morgan who worked with CDR on the state’s investments.

The inquiry is part of a long-running nationwide investigation into “pay-to-play” practices in local government bond markets. In other cities, federal investigators are questioning whether financial firms have lavished politicians with money and gifts in exchange for fee-paying work advising municipal and local governments on investments. Authorities indicted the mayor of Birmingham, Ala., this month on charges of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and loans from a firm that led the city into toxic investments and massive bankruptcy.

Ed’s got more background.

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