PHOENIX — Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico who ran for president in 2008, is being investigated by a federal grand jury for possible violations of campaign finance laws, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry.
Defense lawyers and others briefed on the investigation said one of the accusations is that Mr. Richardson raised $250,000 from supporters to quiet a woman who had threatened to file a sexual harassment suit against him.
Kenneth J. Gonzales, the United States attorney for New Mexico, said in a statement that he could “neither confirm nor deny the existence of any grand jury investigation into alleged criminal conduct” by Mr. Richardson.
But others close to the case said that several people with links to Mr. Richardson had testified before a grand jury in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
The Albuquerque Journal first reported on the existence of the investigation on Nov. 16, and The Wall Street Journal followed up Thursday with more details about money paid to a woman who had said she had an affair with the governor.
In interviews on Thursday, people with knowledge of the investigation said that a sexual harassment claim might be at the root of the inquiry. (Continues here)