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Money links N.M.’s top 2009 stories

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By Sue M. Holmes

ALBUQUERQUE — Much of what made news in New Mexico in 2009 came down to money.

There was a pay-for-play investigation that cost Gov. Bill Richardson a federal cabinet post. A former secretary of state faces charges over federal funds for voter education. A longtime state Senate leader was sentenced in a kickback scheme. Former housing authority officials were accused of misusing bond proceeds.

And the once-glowing revenue picture in New Mexico deteriorated into a scramble to find enough money to keep the state in the black.

President Barack Obama nominated Richardson as commerce secretary, but the governor pulled out under pressure of a federal grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors.

Richardson insisted all along that he would be cleared, and he was buoyed in August when it became apparent no charges would be brought against the governor or his former top aides.

The controversy led to changes in how the state handles proposed investments, and State Investment Officer Gary Bland resigned in October amid a continuing investigation.

The sputtering economy dominated the Legislature.


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