New Mexico weighs major settlement in pay-to-play scandal

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – 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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