DoJ drops prosecution of top Dem (updated)

An unpleasant smell attends the Department of Justice decision to not prosecute New Mexico Governor (and Obama ally) Bill Richardson. Fresh on the heels of the Department declining to prosecute the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation, while appointing a special prosecutor for CIA interrogators, the appearance of a politicized Justice Department is being created.

Fox News reports:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former high-ranking members of his administration won't be criminally charged in a yearlong federal investigation into pay-to-play allegations involving one of the Democratic governor's large political donors, someone familiar with the case said.

The decision not to pursue indictments was made by top Justice Department officials, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because federal officials had not disclosed results of the probe. [emphasis added]

"It's over. There's nothing. It was killed in Washington," the person told The Associated Press.

"Top Justice Department officials" would seem to indicate a political appointee, possibly Eric Holder.

When the top political official in a state is not prosecuted, the DoJ has an obligation to lay out the reasons. Public confidence requires a full airing of the reasons behind the decision. If political appointees overruled the recommendation of career officials, a scandal is at hand.

Update:

Kyle-Anne Shiver points out this blog from over 18 months ago from none other than the New York Times' Caucus blog of alleged deal between Obama and Richardson, during the primary caucus fights:

There were many factors contributing to Barack Obama's decisive victory in Iowa Thursday night -- his efforts to reach out to first-time caucus voters, record turnout, and a willingness by voters to take a chance on a candidate who seemed improbable not long ago -- but was an agreement with the Bill Richardson campaign one of them?

Both campaigns have repeatedly insisted there was no deal. And on Friday the Richardson camp said it again.

A spokesman for the Richardson campaign, Tom Reynolds, said that there was no pact. "There was no deal," said Tom Reynolds, a spokesman for the Richardson campaign. "We've repeatedly said this. The Obama campaign has said this."

But Thursday night, at the State Historical Society of Iowa building in downtown Des Moines, the caucusing certainly had the feel of a deal.

The Richardson faithful huddled in a corner, all 30 of them potential prey. And almost as soon as it became clear that they were vastly outnumbered, the operatives from rival campaigns began to pounce.

"What do you believe in?" implored a volunteer from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign, who reminded the Richardson voters that their candidate, who is now the governor of New Mexico, had served in Bill Clinton's administration as Energy Secretary.

But a supporter from Senator Obama's campaign had a more persuasive offer. She explained that the Obama campaign and the Richardson campaign had a pact: If Mr. Richardson failed to win enough votes in the caucuses being held across Iowa that night to be considered a viable candidate, his Rumors of a pact first surfaced on Thursday morning, after the Iowa Independent reported that Mr. Richardson's caucus organizers "have been instructed to direct supporters to Obama" in places where they do not have enough voters to receive a delegate.

Agreement or no agreement, the defection of Richardson supporters helped Mr. Obama handily carry the 64th precinct in Des Moines.

Payback?

An unpleasant smell attends the Department of Justice decision to not prosecute New Mexico Governor (and Obama ally) Bill Richardson. Fresh on the heels of the Department declining to prosecute the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation, while appointing a special prosecutor for CIA interrogators, the appearance of a politicized Justice Department is being created.

Fox News reports:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former high-ranking members of his administration won't be criminally charged in a yearlong federal investigation into pay-to-play allegations involving one of the Democratic governor's large political donors, someone familiar with the case said.

The decision not to pursue indictments was made by top Justice Department officials, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because federal officials had not disclosed results of the probe. [emphasis added]

"It's over. There's nothing. It was killed in Washington," the person told The Associated Press.

"Top Justice Department officials" would seem to indicate a political appointee, possibly Eric Holder.

When the top political official in a state is not prosecuted, the DoJ has an obligation to lay out the reasons. Public confidence requires a full airing of the reasons behind the decision. If political appointees overruled the recommendation of career officials, a scandal is at hand.

Update:

Kyle-Anne Shiver points out this blog from over 18 months ago from none other than the New York Times' Caucus blog of alleged deal between Obama and Richardson, during the primary caucus fights:

There were many factors contributing to Barack Obama's decisive victory in Iowa Thursday night -- his efforts to reach out to first-time caucus voters, record turnout, and a willingness by voters to take a chance on a candidate who seemed improbable not long ago -- but was an agreement with the Bill Richardson campaign one of them?

Both campaigns have repeatedly insisted there was no deal. And on Friday the Richardson camp said it again.

A spokesman for the Richardson campaign, Tom Reynolds, said that there was no pact. "There was no deal," said Tom Reynolds, a spokesman for the Richardson campaign. "We've repeatedly said this. The Obama campaign has said this."

But Thursday night, at the State Historical Society of Iowa building in downtown Des Moines, the caucusing certainly had the feel of a deal.

The Richardson faithful huddled in a corner, all 30 of them potential prey. And almost as soon as it became clear that they were vastly outnumbered, the operatives from rival campaigns began to pounce.

"What do you believe in?" implored a volunteer from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign, who reminded the Richardson voters that their candidate, who is now the governor of New Mexico, had served in Bill Clinton's administration as Energy Secretary.

But a supporter from Senator Obama's campaign had a more persuasive offer. She explained that the Obama campaign and the Richardson campaign had a pact: If Mr. Richardson failed to win enough votes in the caucuses being held across Iowa that night to be considered a viable candidate, his Rumors of a pact first surfaced on Thursday morning, after the Iowa Independent reported that Mr. Richardson's caucus organizers "have been instructed to direct supporters to Obama" in places where they do not have enough voters to receive a delegate.

Agreement or no agreement, the defection of Richardson supporters helped Mr. Obama handily carry the 64th precinct in Des Moines.

Payback?