NBC News reports:
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 Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state.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 whether a California firm, CDR Financial Products, won a lucrative contract from the state of New Mexico after it contributed at least $110,000 to three political committees formed by Richardson. The grand jury probe was “in a highly active stage” at the time Obama nominated Richardson.
Obama issued this statement:
It is with deep regret that I accept Governor Bill Richardson’s decision to withdraw his name for nomination as the next Secretary of Commerce.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. Although we must move quickly to fill the void left by Governor Richardson’s decision, I look forward to his future service to our country and in my administration.