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Obama's Secretary of Commerce appointee, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, withdrew his name from consideration this past weekend when it became public that a grand jury is investigating him for a "pay to play" deal, similar to the controversy that is now sweeping the state of Illinois. A federal investigation is looking into how a big-money political contributor of the governor landed lucrative state contracts. Richardson denies all wrong doing.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, "The big picture is fairly simple. CDR Financial Products LLC of Beverly Hills was paid $1.4 million from work it did on behalf of the New Mexico Finance Authority, which issued GRIP transportation bonds. David Rubin, the company's principal owner, made at least $100,000 in contributions to Richardson-backed political committees about the time the firm got the work with the finance authority. Two substantial contributions were three months apart and generally coincided with the separate awards to CDR — one of them a no-bid, sole-source deal."

I've followed the career of Richardson closely. He was a former member of the House of Representatives in Washington. He served as Bill Clinton's Secretary of Energy (DoE) and we all know that New Mexico long ago was chosen as one of the nation's "nuclear sacrifice zones" where nuclear testing was first done and where today several nuclear labs and many military bases test all kinds of futuristic weapons systems.

Albuquerque has many nuclear weapons stored at Kirtland AFB right inside the city. Kirtland is also the space laser directorate for the Pentagon. Many "missile defense" systems are flight tested in southern New Mexico at White Sands. Bill Richardson has always been about bringing home the "Pentagon bacon" and has never shown an inclination to interrupt anything involving the military industrial complex.

When Obama chose Richardson for his cabinet, the message to me was, here goes more of the same.

I sent a message to my good friend, and Global Network board member, Bob Anderson in Albuquerque who co-directs the group
Stop the War Machine. I asked Bob to give me his thoughts on the Richardson scandal. Here are some of them:
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"It raises a lot more questions about the Obama team. It was obvious to anyone here not connected to the ideologues of the Democratic Party that this man [Richardson] was a carpetbagger who moved here just to run for higher office, and along the way was a global type corporate criminal. Richardson was a director of Kissinger Associates (as in Henry the butcher) which is a private sector firm that brings in politicians to keep them on a payroll when they are out of elective office.

" Richardson campaigned in 2000 on an economic plank of more militarization as a way to solve the state economic problems. Along with Republican Senator Pete Dominici, who just resigned to avoid an ethics investigation for election tampering saying he has an incurable brain disease and now has miracle recovery, they turned the state over to every war and weapons program imaginable -- from nuclear war planning, to war in space planning and development. Along the way they had help from another carpetbagger, Heather Wilson, Republican member of the House, and against whom I ran in 1998 as a Green.

"People like Richardson and Wilson move to states like NM as carpetbaggers to position themselves for political office to better serve the private sector interests and the military. This is the political arm of the military industrial complex in action.

"Richardson specialized in taking public assets, taxes, and turning them over to private sector interests. The state pension and rainy day fund was raided for millions with investments in Wall Street schemes like the Madoff fiasco, when other investors were abandoning hedge funds and pyramid schemes last fall. $200 million was tapped for a private spaceport for the global elite and Lockheed Martin to launch space research weapons and fun flights for celebrities. All these were part of his plan to get money for his run for president, which was a failure.

"Richardson talked [nuclear] nonproliferation but stood by while the Reliable Replacement Warhead was discussed. While he was Secretary of the DoE he oversaw an expansion of the WMDs in Albuquerque and never responded to our campaign to rid the city of 2,000 WMDs stored at Kirtland AFB. In fact he helped the Air Force locate the new WMD center at the base, along with the space battlefield program. SO much .... When the BRAC [base closing commission] planned to close Canon AFB at Clovis, NM he rushed out there and stood shoulder to shoulder with the Republican Senators Domenici and Wilson to promise to find a new mission for the base. We've now got a new covert operations training base there. The whole state has seen an expansion of war research and planning under his term while poverty has grown here. White Sands Missile Range is now to be home to a battalion of regular Army in addition to other programs, to train for wars in Eurasia."

So basically, according to Bob, Gov. Richardson was just another garden variety center-right Democrat disguised as a progressive.

It's good to see him out of contention for the Obama cabinet post but there are plenty more like him out there. I'm certain Obama will find another person like Richardson for the Commerce Department post.
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Bruce Gagnon is the Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

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