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January 12, 2009

Inquiry Highlights New Mexico’s Few Ethics Laws

The NY Times
By James C. McKinley Jr. and Michael Haederle

Forest City Enterprises makes a cameo in an article about New Mexico Governor Richardson's ties with campaign contributors, after he had "to forgo a cabinet post in the Obama administration."

One of the largest donors to Mr. Richardson has been Forest City Covington, a joint venture that is developing Mesa del Sol, a 12,900-acre tract of state-owned land just south of the Albuquerque airport.

From 2002 to 2007, Mr. Richardson’s two political action committees, his re-election campaign and his presidential campaign received more than $290,000 in cash and in-kind contributions from Forest City Covington and members of the families that control the company.


NoLandGrab: There's no mention that Atlantic Yards developer and NY Times developement partner Forest City Ratner is a wholly owned subsidiary of Forest City Covington partner, Forest City Enterprises. Maybe the relationship was deemed too circuitous to explain. Actually we're a little surprised that Forest City didn't get a pass in this case.

Atlantic Yards Report, In New Mexico, cloud over Gov. Richardson includes $290,000 from Forest City affiliates and representatives

Norman Oder notes that:

It wasn't like the press hadn't been pointing this out. On 4/10/07, the AP ran an article bluntly headlined Richardson Signs Bill Benefiting Donor. It began:

Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson received about $150,000 in gubernatorial campaign contributions the past two years from a developer that benefits from taxpayer-subsidized bonds authorized in legislation he signed last week.

Among its contributions, the developer, Forest City Covington, gave the New Mexico governor the use of a leased corporate airplane for three trips last year that were valued at $21,727, according to a review of lobbyist expenditure and campaign finance reports by The Associated Press.

Richardson's office said the company's political contributions didn't influence his decision to sign the bonding legislation. "The governor makes decisions based upon what is best for the state - period," said Jon Goldstein, a spokesman for Richardson.

The company emphasized that its campaign contributions complied with state election law. New Mexico allows unlimited contributions from corporations and other donors. Federal law, however, limits contributions to presidential campaigns.

"The only influence we desire is that of continued economic growth and development for New Mexico," Anne Monson, a spokeswoman for the development, said in a statement.

But Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics, said $150,000 was "a lot of money from one company to one politician."

NoLandGrab: Richardson's office claims that contributions from Forest City Enterprises didn't influence his decision? Now executives at Forest City must be thinking, "damn, we coulda saved a lot of money if the guy was gonna sign the bill anyway."

Posted by lumi at January 12, 2009 5:29 AM