New Mexico Governor and presidential hopeful Bill Richardson is getting criticism for taking money for his presidential bid from people and groups currently lobbying the New Mexico government. Some are calling it a pay-to-play situation, but Richardson denies any ulterior motive.
While Richardson lags far behind the front-runners on the Democratic tickets, some critics say he's using banking on the power of his current office to buy a ticket to a new one:
Richardson has collected about $167,000 from lobbyists registered in the state and nearly $403,000 from executives and employees of companies and organizations represented by lobbyists during the first nine months of the year, according to a review of campaign finance reports by The Associated Press.
Richardson also received $22,000 from political action committees affiliated with companies and organizations with lobbyists in New Mexico.
The combined contributions from state lobbyists and their clients account for 3 percent of the $18.5 million in total contributions received by the Richardson campaign through September.
Richardson, who has been a supporter of expanding public financing options for elected officials in New Mexico, took the opportunity to both deny that contributions were buying influence, and to reiterate his support for public financing of federal campaigns to erase even the appearance of impropriety:
"I'm going to take lobbyist money and I continue to do that from labor unions, from women's groups, from environmental groups, from nurses," Richardson said. "I think what we need is campaign finance reform."