Fudged story about Marine mom
In a devastating revelation for Richardson's campaign, the Associated Press reported in May that one of the New Mexico governor's most popular stump stories -- about the mother of a slain Marine -- has likely been embellished. The story involves Richardson's attendance at the 2004 funeral of Lance Cpl. Aaron Austin. As the AP reported:
As he campaigns for the Democratic nomination, the New Mexico governor often recounts an emotional conversation with Austin's mother, saying she thanked him for the federal death benefits she had received and even showed him the government check.
In speeches in New Hampshire, Richardson has gotten Austin's name wrong at least once and age wrong at least twice. He also has called Austin the first New Mexico soldier killed in Iraq -- instead of the third.
But that's not what bothers the Marine's mother, De'on Miller, of Lovington, N.M., who says the conversation about money never took place.
"I didn't exchange words at all with the governor there except when he gave me the flag. And those few words -- whatever was exchanged when he handed me the flag and the Spirit of New Mexico award -- certainly had nothing to do with money," she said Thursday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Rumored to make demeaning jokes about women
According to the Washington Note's Steve Clemons, Richardson has a reputation for making obscene gestures to women, including "pointing to them and then pointing at [his] crotch with a room full of media and other politicos there in the room." Clemons also claims that "rumors have long swept around Santa Fe that Bill Richardson makes a frequent joke out of demeaning women."
A little "touchy"
Richardson has been known to greet people with a head-butt or giant hug, but not everyone finds his hands-on approach to be amusing. The Albuquerque Journal reported that Richardson's Lt. Governor Diane Denish finds the touching unwelcome. "He pinches my neck. He touches my hip, my thigh, sort of the side of my leg," Denish told the paper. Denish said she tries to avoid sitting next to him and finds the behavior to be "annoying." "When he's doing it in these public environments, I have chosen not to embarrass him by not doing anything blatant about it publicly . . . . I don't think I should embarrass him," she said. Denish called the teasing "one of the challenges of this governor. He has a lot of good qualities and this is one of the challenges." Richardson responded by saying, "I guess that's what I get for being friendly." Other signs of Richardson's friendliness include, "surprising a group of teenage girls" by "buckling their knees from behind," head-butting a reporter, and putting a middle school boy in a headlock. (Albuquerque Journal, 12/17/2005)
Lied About Getting Drafted by the A's
We expect politicians to fib a little bit, but this one takes the cake. For the first thirty years of his political career, Richardson actually claimed to have been drafted by the Major League Baseball team the Kansas City Athletics in 1966. Richardson touted his accomplishment in a campaign biography from his 1982 election run and a White House 1997 news release regarding his appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. News outlets had also reported the claim over the years, but after an Albuquerque Journal investigation found no record of Richardson being drafted, Richardson was forced to admit his error. "After being notified of the situation and after researching the matter . . . I came to the conclusion that I was not drafted by the A's."
Source of the Wen Ho Lee leak?
During his tenure as administrator of the Department of Energy, the New York Times broke a story claiming that government secrets regarding nuclear warheads had been sold to China. Two days later, Richardson fired Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee, who was later arrested under allegations of espionage. After nine months in solitary confinement, Lee was charged with one count of mishandling classified information, and the federal judge apologized to Lee for his mistreatment by the government. Lee went on to sue news outlets and the federal government for leaking personal and classified information about him to the media. In his case, Richardson was named as a likely source of the leaked information. The case was settled out of court, and the source of the leak was never named.
Lost government secrets; found them behind the photocopier
Richardson served as administrator of the Department of Energy in 2000 when Los Alamos scientists discovered that hard drives containing sensitive information on the design of U.S., Russian, Chinese and French nuclear weapons were missing from the laboratory's X Division, which houses classified information on nuclear weapons research and development. The drives, which were missing for over a month, eventually resurfaced behind a photocopy machine, in a place that had already been checked several times. Richardson was asked to explain the security breach before the Senate Intelligence Committee but initially failed to show up for his hearing. When he did, he was rebuked by committee members, including Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) who accused Richardson of showing "contempt of Congress that borders on supreme arrogance." Later, he told Richardson, "you had a bright and brilliant career, but you will never again receive the support of the U.S. Senate for any office you seek. You have squandered your treasure." Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the committee, called for Richardson's resignation.
Bought luxury jet with taxpayer money
As governor of New Mexico, Richardson bought a $5.5 million luxury jet with a wet bar and leather interior to be used by the state government. The jet was bought from Cessna in a no bid contract and costs significantly more to other planes in the governor's fleet and more than recent plane acquisitions by neighboring state governments. According to an analysis by the state's legislative finance committee, "It is not clear why GSD received no bids for a new King Air B200 or 350. . . . The B200 has been purchased recently by Utah and Colorado for less than $4 million. The 350 costs roughly the equivalent of the price of the Bravo. The LFC analysis, based on data provided by Cessna, indicates that total annual costs to operate a new King Air 350 are about 11 percent less than the costs to operate the Bravo." (Santa Fe New Mexican, 7/22//2005)