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It Sure Would Take a Lot of Chutzpah

I can’t help but wonder if Governor Bill Richardson will bring up a push for ethics reform (subscription) in his State of State address today:

It’s a $1.7 million mystery.

Several people who might be in a position to clear it up say they don’t know anything; others aren’t talking.

It all plays out against the backdrop of an ongoing federal pay-to-play investigation that derailed Gov. Bill Richardson’s nomination for U.S. commerce secretary.

The first chapter began in the fall of 2003, when Richardson was collecting money for his Moving America Forward political action committee and starting another related organization called the Moving America Forward Foundation.

Both were aimed at increasing voter participation among minorities.

But unlike the higher profile PAC, the foundation mostly operated under the radar. To date, the foundation has never publicly revealed who donated the more than $1.7 million that IRS filings show it raised in the 2004-07 tax years.

Because the foundation was formed as a “public charity,” it is not legally required to publicly disclose individual contributors or say exactly how those tax-deductible contributions were spent.

The PAC operated under different rules and was required to make detailed public disclosures to the state.

The foundation’s board of directors reads like a Who’s Who of Hispanic leaders in Albuquerque and included several Richardson political advisers.

Two board members didn’t return phone calls from the Journal. Three others told the Journal last week they had no real involvement with the organization and didn’t know who its donors were.

It Sure Would Take a Lot of Chutzpah