An inquiry into whether the 2008 presidential campaign of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson allegedly ponied up hush money to keep a woman from saying she and the then-governor had an affair, gives the scandal a decidedly John Edwards-like tone. The new revelation comes from a federal grand jury inquiry into possible campaign finance violations from the alleged payout. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The most explosive matter under investigation involves allegations by a former member of Mr. Richardson's inner circle. That individual said Mr. Richardson's political allies gave $250,000 to placate a woman who was considering suing the governor in 2007, exposing their alleged extramarital affair, according to people familiar with the federal probe. They said the woman was a state employee at the time that she allegedly became romantically involved with Mr. Richardson around 2004. The woman's identity has not been disclosed, and the type of suit considered has not been confirmed.
Those familiar with the case say prosecutors are seeking to prove that the alleged payment to the woman was a de facto campaign contribution to Mr. Richardson, intended to further his bid for higher office. In that case, the alleged payment could have violated federal campaign-finance law if it was not reported and did not comply with limits on political donations.
Similarly, the prosecution has argued that Edwards, who has been indicted in a North Carolina federal court, violated campaign finance laws by not reporting the money paid his pregnant mistress Reille Hunter as a campaign expense. The Albequerque Journal broke the story two weeks ago that Richardson's supporters had allegedly paid out to settle a threatened lawsuit.