Auto Czar Also Indicated in NM Pay-to-Play

April 23, 2009 ( - Campaign finance records show New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's campaigns and political action committees received at least $102,300 from brokers hired by money managers seeking to handle $11.7 billion of state trust funds, Bloomberg reports.

In addition, Richardson, a Democrat who ran for President in 2008, received at least $95,000 from the state trusts’ outside money managers, including $20,000 from former Quadrangle Group LLC founder Steven Rattner, who directs the Obama administration’s auto industry task force, and $50,381 from Leo Hindery, founder of InterMedia Advisors LLC, as reflected in New Mexico and federal campaign finance records, according to the news report.

The Washington Post last week reported that Rattner’s investment firm Quadrangle Group is one of about a dozen private-equity companies and hedge funds involved in a state-federal probe by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo into potential pay-to-play wrongdoing (see Report: Auto Czar’s Investment Firm Focus of Pay-to-Play Probe ).

According to Bloomberg, In January Richardson withdrew his nomination to become President Barack Obama’s Commerce Secretary after it was disclosed that a New Mexico grand jury was investigating whether an adviser won work on state bond deals because of campaign donations. That same month, the former chief investment officer for New Mexico’s public schoolteachers’ pension fund charged in a lawsuit that two state funds lost $90 million from investments they placed with a firm that had contributed to Governor Bill Richardson’s presidential campaign (see Suit Alleges New Mexico Pension Pay to Play). 

The news report said Rattner’s firm, Quadrangle, used Hank Morris, a political adviser to former New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, as a third-party broker in New Mexico to secure a $20 million commitment to one of its private equity funds, according to a list of brokers released by the state’s investment council. A spokesman for New York-based Quadrangle declined to comment to Bloomberg about Rattner’s contributions to Richardson.

Last month, Morris was charged with allegedly soliciting millions of dollars of kickbacks and political contributions from firms managing money for New York (see Former NY Common Fund CIO Charged by SEC).