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article imageBill Richardson Waves Goodbye to Commerce Secretary Position

By David Silverberg     Jan 4, 2009 in Politics
In a surprise decision, Bill Richardson announced he will withdraw his nomination for the position of Secretary of Commerce. He cited his involvement in a federal investigation into his ties to a California company that won municipal bond business.
When Barack Obama tapped New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for Commerce Secretary, the business world applauded. Richardson is known as a savvy fiscally responsible governor, and Hillary Clinton said she endorsed his nomination. But five weeks after Obama said he was interested in Richardson for the position, the Governor has asked Obama "not to move forward" with his nomination now.
In a statement to the press, Richardson said, "I do so with great sorrow. But a pending investigation of a company that has done business with New Mexico state government promises to extend for several weeks or, perhaps, even months."
He went on to say: "Given the gravity of the economic situation the nation is facing, I could not in good conscience ask the President-elect and his Administration to delay for one day the important work that needs to be done."
As the Washington Post relates, a grand jury in New Mexico is looking into charges of "pay-to-play" in the awarding of a state contract to a company that contributed to Richardson. When Richardson was first nominated, the investigation was invariably dismissed as a point of contention.
The President-Elect also expressed his sympathy and regret to Richardson's announcement: "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. It is a measure of his willingness to put the nation first that he has removed himself as a candidate for the Cabinet in order to avoid any delay in filling this important economic post at this critical time."
Richardson mentioned he will remain governor of New Mexico "for now."
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