Richardson withdraws as commerce secretary nominee

New Mexico Gov. cites pending investigation, denies wrongdoing.

Published January 4, 2009 6:38PM (EST)

Bill Richardson, the New Mexico Governor who Barack Obama tapped to be secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name from nomination for the position, NBC News reports.

While denying any wrongdoing, Richardson cited a pending investigation into an unspecified company that has done business with the state of New Mexico: "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 on NBC News. "But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process." Richardson plans to continue in his role as Governor of New Mexico.

President-elect Obama said he accepted Richardson's decision to withdraw with "deep regret." Obama did not give any hint as to who might nominate instead, but said: "we must move quickly to fill the void left by Governor Richardson's decision."

UPDATE: A federal grand jury is investigating how CDR Financial Products, a California company which made financial contributions to Richardson's political activities, won a lucrative New Mexico contract, according to the Associated Press


By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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