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