Monday, January 10, 2011

New Mexico: The Rot Beneath the Stench

Forbes is featuring a nifty story which explains that while Governor Bill Richardson (D) was grandstanding his "consideration" of a pardon for the long-dead murderer Billy "the Kid," he was degrading clemency powers on other - less noticeable - fronts.

The article focuses on Edward M. Gilbert, the “Boy Wonder Of Wall Street,” who was once admired for a "hostile takeover of hardwood flooring maker E.L. Bruce Co."  In 1962, however, Gilbert took $2 million in cash and fled to Brazil. After pleading guilty to fraud, he served a 2-year prison sentence. In 1981, he was convicted of "stock manipulation" and served a second sentence (of 21 months). 

Gilbert moved to New Mexico and "built another fortune" selling "limited partnerships in commercial real estate deals." When real estate values "took off," his returns were "magnified" and he became "one of the country’s largest such operations" and "cashed out." 

Gilbert eventually became "quite the philanthropist, supporting numerous local nonprofit organizations" and a supporter of Bill Richardson. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Gilbert's BGK Group "or people associated with it" contributed $50,000 to Richardson’s gubernatorial race in 2002 and $39,000 to his 2008 presidential run. The New Mexico Business Weekly says Gilbert also hosted a fundraiser for Richardson.

Forbes reports that, "as it turns out, a few months [before] Richardson [left office, he] quietly granted executive clemency to the 88-year-old Gilbert. Says Forbes:
Richardson openly courted publicity for his consideration of the Billy The Kid matter; indeed, he made the announcement denying relief on national television his very last day in office. But the now-looking-for-a-job politician was far more circumspect about his Gilbert move. Richardson signed the papers on August 6. But the news only got out four months later-the same week as the Billy The Kid non-pardon-thanks to pressure from journalists who had filed freedom of information act requests for pardon records.
See entire Forbes story here.

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