An investigation into alleged corruption in awarding state contracts by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson ended in the governor's name being cleared last Friday when the federal prosecutor on the case decided not to indict him. The nearly yearlong investigation cost Richardson a job in President Obama's cabinet and had cast his political future into doubt. The Democratic governor has since been busy proclaiming his vindication and preparing to reassume his position on the national political stage, but now the prosecutor can't seem to let him go.
U.S. attorney Greg Fouratt sent a letter to prosecutors, claiming that pressure from the governor's office had compromised the investigation, and that his decision not to indict "is not to be interpreted as an exoneration of any party's conduct." Washington legal experts denounced the letter, saying Fouratt should not be insinuating misconduct on the governor's part if he chose not to indict. Mike McKay, who served as U.S. attorney in D.C. from 1989 to 1993, said the letter is "virtually unprecedented. It reflects extremely poor judgment." Obama is expected to replace Fouratt, but is believed to have let him complete the investigation to avoid the appearance of interference.
Richardson's office issued a statement calling Fouratt's letter "wrong on the facts" and "nothing more than sour grapes," and a former campaign manager said it should not prohibit Richardson from getting on with his political life.
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