The Latest: New Mexico judge extends pay-to-play inquiry




SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on litigation from a pay-to-play scandal with during the administration of former Gov. Bill Richardson (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

A judge is extending an inquiry into conflict-of-interest allegations against a contract law firm that is helping New Mexico settle claims in a pay-to-play scandal during the administration of former Gov. Bill Richards.

District Judge Raymond Ortiz on Friday requested further evidence regarding allegations that Connecticut-based legal firm Day Pitney may have a conflict of interest between its Wall Street clients and helping New Mexico recover state investments linked to pay-to-play schemes.

Day Pitney has helped the New Mexico attorney general's office and State Investment Council reach settlements after a scandal that put state investments in the hands of money managers in return for payments or political favors.

A whistleblower who opposes the settlements wants to know whether Day Pitney advised the state of potential conflicts with other clients. The attorney general's office says courts have addressed the allegations previously.

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4:10 a.m.

Investigations into a pay-to-play scheme that preyed on New Mexico state investment and pension funds during the administration of former Gov. Bill Richardson have reached at a major crossroads as district courts hold hearings on a $24 million proposed settlement with a Chicago investment firm.

New Mexico's attorney general and the State Investment Council are urging approval of the settlement with Vanderbilt Capital Investors. But husband-and-wife whistleblowers and their Santa Fe attorney say they can do far better at clawing back money for state taxpayers and a teacher pension fund.

The labyrinthine legal dispute comes to a head Friday in the first of a series of hearings in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

Supporters of the proposed Vanderbilt settlement include Gov. Susana Martinez, chair of the State Investment Council.

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