By now, many of you will have read or heard the news that Governor Bill Richardson will not be indicted by the grand jury that spent a year investigating whether an investment services company won a big state contract after making contributions to two of Richardson's political action committees in 2004.
This is the investigation that caused Richardson to withdraw from his nomination to the position of commerce secretary.
The news that he wouldn't be indicted was quickly followed last week by details pulled from a letter that U.S. Attorney Greg Fouratt wrote to defense attorney's letting them know there would be no investigation.
You can see the letter for yourself here.
Fouratt said in the letter that while there would be no indictment, the investigation "revealed that pressure from the governor's office resulted in the corruption of the procurement process so that CDR would be awarded the work."
He further said that the lack of indictments shouldn't be considered an exoneration.
That the letter, which is dated August 27, quickly made its way into the hands of the press bolsters the assertion made by a former Republican U.S. Attorney, Joseph diGenova, that the letter is blatantly political.
I tend to agree.
Here's why it seems so political, to me.
Fouratt's statement in the letter that the procurement process was corrupted by pressure from the Governor's office begs the question: why, then, was there no indictment?
It could be that Fouratt wants us to believe that the decision to not indict Richardson was itself political.
But in order to believe that, we'd have to believe that the Justice Department with all of its career prosecutors colluded together to decide to let a crime of that magnitude go unpunished.
After a year long investigation by a grand jury, and a Justice Department under major scrutiny for letting decisions be swayed by politics during the Bush years, that's a bit of a stretch.
We need prosecutors who take to heart the bedrock principle that people in this country are innocent until proven guilty. If his grand jury didn't lead to a simple indictment--which is simply a greenlight to go to trial--then Fouratt needs to let the people he pursued in this case be innocent rather than further damage their reputations.
Instead, he issues a letter casting further aspersions on them, after they've been subjected to relentless public suspicion since last year. He must know such a letter would play out in the press, and that it would impact public opinion about the governor. That's political.
The governor's spokesperson called it "sour grapes." To me, its more like a threat, an unwarranted one.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Like so many Americans, I woke up completely heartbroken this morning to the news that Senator Ted Kennedy, standard-bearer for liberalism, Lion of the Senate, had passed away.
It's overwhelming to take in all that Kennedy did to fight for justice over nearly fifty years of service, all the ways in which he championed the cause of those without desks in the Senate chambers, all that legislation - an entire generation's worth of legislation - that bore his mark in some way.
More often than not, Kennedy served as a barometer for that single, highest measure of importance: are we treating others the way that we'd like to be treated? Are those who are ignored and forgotten helped by what we are doing? Are those who have been wronged a little more righted by our efforts? Is it enough? What more can we do?
Over the years, here on m-pyre and in a hundred conversations, Marjorie and Mikaela have lovingly teased me that my heroes tend to be dead white men. This is true to an extent, the reason being that our structure of government lies at the center of my own experience. (And that structure, as we know, has historically enabled one demographic more than others.) I've always felt strongly that there is a time and a place to work within that system, as flawed as it may be. Like it or not, it is the arena that translates activism into policy. If ground-up, community-based action is the heart of any movement (and I believe it is), we need instruments of change inside the power structure to harness that passion and translate it into law. Progress is easier when there are allies on the inside. And there was no stronger ally, or more knowledgeable figure about the legislative process, than Senator Kennedy.
I began here by pondering the overwhelming scope of Kennedy's legacy. So, too, is the thought of a future without him. I look around and don't see that new standard-bearer in wait. Paul Wellstone was taken away from us too soon. Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. Barack Obama became President. Whereas Kennedy's failed bid for the presidency freed him to dedicate himself to the Senate, I fear that "ambition or bust" is more common today. We cannot all become a Lion of the Senate, after all. Nor should we. There can only be one.
I'm remembering this morning that voice looming over debates on the Senate floor. I'm thinking about my own lifetime of being invested in politics, as defined in large part by Senator Kennedy. I'm remembering working in politics in Massachusetts, and seeing the senior senator here, there, everywhere, his hands in everything that mattered. And since I'm traveling back anyway, I'm thinking too of that childhood concept wherein it's impossible to believe that certain people will ever leave this world, because they are in so many ways the center of it. That girl wishes beyond hope that Senator Kennedy could've lived forever.
From the greatest senator of our lifetime, his most quoted pronouncement:
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Ever wonder about the occasional upheaval among writers in the blogosphere? Well, the following example should clue you in.
From Heath Haussamen's original story yesterday:
"For example, according to the indictments, a $2 million voucher from the state treasury was deposited in the account of Gutierrez between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5, 2004. That voucher was based on a false invoice, the indictment states.
"Then, between Oct. 1 and Oct. 7, 2004, a $140,000 check from Gutierrez was deposited in the account of the Kupfers. Similar transactions occurred several times between 2004 and 2006, according to the indictment."
From Joe Monahan's blog this morning, uncredited, eerily almost exactly the same:
"For example, the indictment asserts that a $2 million voucher from the state treasury was deposited in Gutierrez's account between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5, 2004 and that the voucher was based on a false invoice. Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 7, 2004, a $140,000 check from Gutierrez was deposited in the Kupfers account. Such activity happened several more times from 2004 to 2006."
A fellow blogger questioned me about this a little more, so here's some additional information:
The issue being written about is a 50 count indictment covered in 21 pages of legal language.
Heath wrote two paragraphs letting readers know what Count 3 and 4 say, in his own words. You can compare how he wrote it with the indictment: http://media2.krqe.com/_local/pdf/vigil-giron_indictment_20090819.pdf