PEBO* hasn’t even been inaugurated, yet, and already two key members of his "shadow" administration are under investigation. First, it was chief of staff-designate Rahm Emanuel and the open questions of just what was said (and possibly offered) when during conversations with Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Capone) over filling Barack Obama’s now-vacant Senate seat. That’s bad enough.
Now we learn that his Commerce Secretary-designate, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico (D-Under The Table) is under grand-jury investigation for his own "pay for play" scheme, involving steering state business to firms in return for campaign contributions:
New Mexico’s Gov. Bill Richardson, who is the newly named Secretary of Commerce in Obama’s about-to-be Cabinet, is also being investigated by a federal grand jury in his home state for possibly steering state bond business from the New Mexico Financial Authority toward David Rubin, a significant campaign contributor, according to an NBC News report, among others.
NBC’s Lisa Myers reports that two former state officials say they’ve recently been questioned by a federal grand jury specifically about allegations that Richardson or aides pushed state business worth nearly $1.5 million in fees toward CDR Financial Products in 2004. The company is headquartered in Beverly Hills.
This was about the same time as CDR’s founder, Rubin, donated $100,000 to two of Richardson’s political action committees; mainly it appears to cover expenses of the governor and his staff at the Democratic Party’s National Convention in Boston that summer.
Rubin also donated another $29,000 to Richardson’s unsuccessful presidential campaign this year and last.
The ghosts of Presidents Grant and Harding must be jealous. No wonder Obama fled to Hawaii for a vacation. I’d be afraid of what’s going to turn up next, too.
Seriously, Obama needs to get a handle on this lest it hobble his administration before it even gets started. I didn’t vote for him and I don’t agree with his stated policies. But the nation is facing great difficulties right now and will be for the foreseeable future. This is not the time to be seen as weak, a poor administrator, or less than honest by the American people. We need a president who enjoys the confidence of the public, and Obama’s sloppy vetting of candidates and his evasiveness over the Blagojevich affair are putting that confidence at risk. I’ve said before that character matters; now is the time for Obama to show us that his is sterling.
*(As in "President-Elect Barack Obama")