Another Republican former U.S. Attorney has criticized New Mexico’s top federal prosecutor for his unorthodox handling of the high-profile pay-to-play investigation of Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.). The twist: the latest critic is also the brother of one of the U.S. Attorneys fired by the Bush administration in 2006.
New Mexico, of course, played a starring role in allegations the Bush White House had fired U.S. Attorneys for political reasons. After then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias got the ax, it later emerged that New Mexico’s senior senator, Pete Domenici (R), had complained to the White House that Iglesias wasn’t pursuing a voter fraud case against Democrats.
Now, Iglesias’s successor, New Mexico U.S. Attorney Gregory J. Fouratt, is under fire for writing that Richardson’s office acted corruptly in pressuring the state to select the company of a campaign donor, California-based CDR Financial Products, as an adviser on transportation bond transactions.
In a letter to defense attorneys last week announcing the government would not bring charges in the pay-to-pay investigation, Fouratt wrote that “pressure from the governor’s office resulted in the corruption of the procurement process” and said that his letter “should not be interpreted as exoneration of any party’s conduct in that matter.” Fouratt, a Bush holdover, was named interim U.S. Attorney a year after Iglesias was fired.
Joseph diGenova, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia during the Reagan administration, told The Associated Press the letter was “stupid” and the New Mexico prosecutor “should be fired.”
Now Mike McKay, brother of another fired U.S. Attorney, former Western District of Washington prosecutor John McKay, has chimed in.
Mike McKay (who also served as Western District of Washington U.S. Attorney, back in the George H.W. Bush administration), told Politico that Fouratt’s letter was “virtually unprecedented. It reflects extremely poor judgment.”
“The very existence of federal criminal investigations is not supposed to be disclosed,” McKay told Politico, referencing the possible harm to the subjects’ standing. “And certainly for the same reasons, you don’t disclose closed investigations.”
Richardson, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination last year before dropping out of the race and endorsing Obama, was being vetted for Commerce secretary when controversy over the accuracy of his disclosures about the probe to the White House caused him to withdraw. Richardson has said he didn’t act improperly as governor.