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Feds Inquiring About Gov. Richardson’s Ex-Chief of Staff

This has the makings of a full-fledged scandal with plenty political repercussions.

By Martin Z. Braun and William Selway
Bloomberg

Federal prosecutors are asking if New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s former chief of staff told a state agency to hire a bond adviser that donated $100,000 to Richardson’s political committees, people familiar with the matter said.
A witness who testified before a federal grand jury in Albuquerque last month said he was asked if David Contarino, the former chief of staff, ordered New Mexico Finance Authority officials to hire Beverly Hills, California-based CDR Financial Products Inc. Another person familiar with the investigation said Contarino, 47, is a subject of the inquiry and that prosecutors are looking at whether he solicited contributions from firms that worked on finance authority bond deals.
Contarino “is a very effective political professional,” said Edward Romero, a former U.S. ambassador to Spain and the national finance chairman for Richardson’s 2008 presidential campaign. “He’s a hard worker.” Romero said he would be surprised if Contarino did anything improper.
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