Pay-to-play settlement hearing kicks off in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A New Mexico district court is considering whether to accept a $24 million settlement from an investment firm in a pay-to-play scandal that took place during administration of former Gov. Bill Richardson.

Judge Louis McDonald has scheduled three days of hearing beginning Monday on the settlement offer with Chicago-based Vanderbilt Capital Investors.

It would be the largest payment to date in a scandal that put state investments in the hands of money managers in return for payments or political favors.

The judge must first consider whether to dismiss competing claims to recover state funds filed by whistleblowers.

Retired state pension fund officer Frank Foy says taxpayers are due far more money than the settlement offers. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas disagrees and considers the settlement reasonable.

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