WASHINGTON – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has withdrawn his nomination as Commerce secretary because of a pending FBI investigation into a major political contributor who landed lucrative state contracts , NBC reported Sunday afternoon.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported that Richardson concluded that the probe would delay his confirmation and he did not want to interfere with the administration’s plans.
The FBI in New Mexico is probing whether political contributions from CDR Financial of California helped the company land more than $1.4 million in state contracts. “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, according to NBC. “But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process.” NBC also reported that he said: “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.” The FBI declined comment Sunday afternoon. Obama issued a statement in response.
“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 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.”