Richardson to withdraw as Commerce secretary
New Mexico governor cites pending investigation of business dealings
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state.
"Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact," he said Sunday in a report by NBC News' Andrea Mitchell. "But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process."
A federal grand jury is investigating how a California company that contributed to Richardson's political activities won a lucrative New Mexico state contract.
A person familiar with the proceedings has told The Associated Press that the grand jury is looking into possible "pay-to-play" dealings between CDR Financial Products and someone in a position to push the contract through with the state of New Mexico.
Richardson said he plans to continue in his role as governor. "I appreciate the confidence President-elect Obama has shown in me, and value our friendship and working partnership. I told him that I am eager to serve in the future in any way he deems useful. And like all Americans, I pray for his success and the success of our beloved country."
Obama said Sunday he accepted Richardson's decision to withdraw with 'deep regret.'
"Governor Richardson is an outstanding public servant and would have brought to the job of Commerce Secretary and our economic team great insights accumulated through an extraordinary career in federal and state office," Obama said.
I always thought it was ' extracurricular' rumors that would get him.