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N.M. agency sued for withholding records

By The Associated Press

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The New Mexico Finance Authority has been sued by a Las Cruces blogger for withholding records about a federal pay-to-play investigation of state bond deals that generated $1.5 million in fees for one of Gov. Bill Richardson’s political contributors.

The lawsuit by Haussamen Publications Inc., the business for blogger Heath Haussamen, contends the finance authority wrongly refused to release copies of federal grand jury subpoenas that were requested under terms of the state Inspection of Public Records Act.

Haussamen sought subpoenas issued to the authority about a federal investigation involving a California firm, CDR Financial Products, which was a financial adviser for transportation bond transactions in New Mexico.

The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that federal investigators are looking at whether political contributions influenced the selection of CDR. The company and its chief executive, David Rubin, contributed $110,000 to Richardson political committees in 2003-2005.

Richardson has said there was nothing improper in how the state awarded the work to CDR.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in state district court in Las Cruces on April 24, the NMFA denied Haussamen’s record request in late January, saying the “release of the requested documents could compromise or impede an ongoing federal investigation.” The lawsuit said there’s no such provision under state law for withholding public records, and it asked the court to order the release of the requested documents.

In a statement, Reynold Romero, NMFA’s lawyer, said, “We are fully cooperating with the Department of Justice in their investigation. NMFA is providing full disclosure and complying with the Department of Justice’s direction to not impede or compromise their investigation in any manner.”

The governor’s office earlier this year released a federal grand jury subpoena it received as part of the federal investigation. The subpoena sought records from the governor’s office “regarding any and all contact” with CDR officials, including correspondence with Richardson’s staff, political advisers and the finance authority.

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