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Bill Richardson: vindication that Hemingway would appreciate

August 28, 2009 |  6:54 am

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, in Cuba on a trade mission in August, 2009, poses in imitation of an iconic Ernest Hemingway photo

Federal prosecutors have dropped a pay-for-play ethics investigation of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. You may recall back in the halcyon days of the Obama administration he had to withdraw his nomination as Commerce secretary to attend to the inquiry.

Now, top Justice Department officials have signaled their decision not to pursue indictments.

“It’s over,” one investigator told the Associated Press. “There’s nothing. It was killed in Washington.” The governor's office issued a statement hailing the move, saying the governor "has known all along that neither he nor any staff members committed any transgressions during their successful fundraising back in 2004. The U.S. attorney's thorough and lengthy investigation has apparently determined the same thing -- that no indiscretions occurred."

Political foes are not so sure. The state's Republican Party chair, Harvey Yates Jr., wondered whether the Obama administration dropped the inquiry for political reasons. “Was this decision made contrary to the advice of experienced, nonpolitical, career prosecutors and the FBI?” he asked.

For his part, Richardson has made no public comment. He and staffers are in Cuba for a trade mission, where he was photographed imitating an iconic Ernest Hemingway image from the author’s onetime home near Havana (photo above).

What next for the popular Latino politician? His term as governor expires in 2010, and New Mexico has term limits on its governors. So the Democratic politician with the long Washington resume will be looking for something to do.

Maybe it’s not too late to save Obamacare.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo credit: Javier Galeano / Associated Press

 

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