By Dowd Muska
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KIVA) — As the U.S. economy continues to suffer from the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is insisting on a multi-trillion-dollar “stimulus” package containing, among other things, a bailout for the airline industry, enhanced unemployment benefits, and a “guarantee that we’re going to be helping our state and local employees.”
It’s legislation that is likely to come to fruition, if Joe Biden takes the White House. And if that’s the case, Toney Anaya might again be tapped to oversee the disbursement of federal funds in New Mexico. And he’ll have a former “co-worker” — the speaker’s son, Paul Pelosi, Jr. — to call if he needs a favor in Washington.
During the early days of the Obama administration, Anaya, elected governor in 1982 but legally barred from running for reelection in 1986, was tasked by Governor Bill Richardson to oversee the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” in the Land of Enchantment. As the Santa Fe New Mexican found, via an Inspection of Public Records Act request, during what was said to be a state “hiring freeze,” the Democrat earned $85 an hour (an annualized rate of more than $175,000) to run “the New Mexico Office of Recovery and Reinvestment.”
But at the same time that Anaya was managing the billions of federal dollars that flowed into the state, the ex-governor seized an opportunity to make some private-sector bucks. Unfortunately, his business “partners” were financial fraudsters.
As the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) determined, neither Anaya nor Pelosi “had any prior experience as officers of public companies.” But in 2009, both were approached by James Cohen and Joseph Corazzi, and offered key management positons in Natural Blue, a business “focusing on green energy projects” that was about to go public. Anaya secured 18.3 percent of the company’s shares, and Pelosi received 16.5 percent.
Over the next few years, Cohen and Corazzi paid themselves lucrative “consulting” fees, while Anaya, ostensibly the enterprise’s CEO, “deferred” to the two “a lot on most stuff.” As for Pelosi, the SEC found that within “a month of Natural Blue’s going public,” he “had another full-time job and was therefore unable to carry out his duties as President.”
Natural Blue “had no revenues, since the company never generated any income through water purification, its acquisitions of ‘green’ technology and equipment, or any other line of business.” For misrepresenting the fact that they were the company’s actual decisionmakers, Cohen and Corazzi each paid SEC fines of $75,000, and both were barred “from acting as an officer or director” of publicly traded corporations. Anaya got off far lighter — no fines, but a ban on “participating in any offering of a penny stock.” No actions were taken against Pelosi, who went on to associate himself with other failed “green” schemes, such as Viscoil, which “dissolved and re-formed in Singapore under a different name,” and Fogfuels, an “innovative biodiesel producer dedicated to protecting the planet and creating clean, sustainable and renewable energy” that does not have a website and has not tweeted since January 2014.
Anaya’s kept a low profile since his SEC wrist-slap, but the prospect of another gusher of revenue from D.C., combined with a deeply partisan Democratic governor in Santa Fe who needs a loyal soldier to manage the lucre, could tempt him to reenter “public service.” If so, will he be a better steward of American taxpayers than he was a protector of Natural Blue shareholders?