January 4th, 2009
02:03 PM ET
13 years ago

Sources: Bill Richardson withdrawing as Cabinet nominee


Gov. Richardson and President-elect Obama announced Richardson's decision to withdraw Sunday. (Getty Images/File)
(CNN) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is withdrawing his nomination as Commerce Secretary, two Democratic officials told CNN's Ed Henry on Sunday.

The Democratic officials said Richardson cited the distraction of a federal investigation into his ties to a California company that won municipal bond business in New Mexico after contributing money to various Richardson causes.

Richardson, one of the best-known Hispanics in the Democratic Party, served as the energy secretary in the Clinton administration as well as ambassador to the United Nations.

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(Full statements from Obama and Richardson after the jump)

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.


For nearly three decades, I have been honored to serve my state and our nation in Congress, at the U.N., as Secretary of Energy and as governor. So when the President-elect asked me to serve as Secretary of Commerce, I felt a duty to answer the call.I felt that duty particularly because America is facing such extraordinary economic challenges. The Department of Commerce must play an important role in solving them by helping to grow the new jobs and businesses America so badly needs.

It is also because of that sense of urgency about the work of the Commerce Department that I have asked the President-elect not to move forward with my nomination at this time.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.

Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact. But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process.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.

So, for now, I will remain in the job I love, Governor of New Mexico, and will continue to work every day, with Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, to make a positive difference in the lives of New Mexicans. I believe she will be a terrific governor in the future.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.

soundoff (232 Responses)
  1. Carramea

    Willy Fisher..... The latinos will have to accept it Richardson may have committed a crime. Hes being investigated.

    January 4, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  2. Timber

    I always knew this guy was a snake. What, after stabbing the Clintons in the back after them being one of his best friends, this guy could do anything. A real rat.

    January 4, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. In with the old

    Who predicted more scandals for the new year?

    January 4, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. Sherrol in Canada

    The FBI is investigating a compnay that Richardson and his Gov did business with. Hopefully this business did not make unlawful contribtions to Richardson's past campaigns.

    January 4, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  5. Marjorie Hiltner

    Good news! That's what you get when you "dump" on people who made you what you are today. I am referring to Richardson "dumping" on Hilary after they put him where he is today! I never liked him from day one and so this pleases me very much. He goes with what he can get out of someone and that is the only reason he hung with Obama. I guess Obama felt he owed him something. I also think we are in for a rude awakening with him as well. The media has him "walking on water", let's see how many "life jackets" he throws out there. I am willing to wait and I may have to wait another four years.

    January 4, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  6. Old White Virginia Female

    Richard Rohde, I agree with you. I am very sorry to see him go. I never could understand the Clinton approach when he openly said that he could not support the type of campaign Hillary was running and was inspired instead by the integrity of Obama. It's nice to see that he does not want to taint Obama in any way or distract this new administration's focus on the issues that count. I do hope that whatever is going on is quickly uncovered, made public, and has no lasting repercussions because I seriously wanted Richardson to play a role in this administration.

    January 4, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  7. Saša

    It's a shame. I always liked him.

    January 4, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. Carramea

    Burns Obamas presidency it not a sinking ship. So far I have alot of hope in him. I think all the years of silence over buying senate seats, governships etc is over. I will agree with you politicians of both parties are scurrying . The American people have had enough of them living off our hard work .

    BY the way HOW DO YOU THINK MCCAIN became a senator, he married rich Cindy, who bought a home for him to become a resident in Arizona then used that money to get him with the insiders to get him elected. This is nothing new.

    January 4, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. jared

    carville predicted that 2009 that the obama cabinet would come under heavy scruntiny and investigations. its like when clinton was pres all them cabinet picks were geared for failure just ask caninet appointee mike espy who had to resign cause they set him up w/ all the under the table gifts and perks then exposed him . he fell for the okey doke only republicans can get away w/ this crap.

    January 4, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. Reality

    Translation: There is no way I will survive being vetted. All the back room deals that I agreed to in exchange for backing the junior senator from Illinois are illegal and will damage the president-elect. Therefore, the president-elect has made it WELL worth my while to bow out before any of the dirt gets out. I will be making quite a bit of money over the next four years and don't care one iota about the country I am allegedly serving. Politics as usual. VTY, Gov. Richardson aka Tio Thomas.

    January 4, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. MEP

    This is a real loss . Richardson show integrity and guts by stepping aside now. I hope when the issues that concern him have been cleared up we will see him front and center, where he should be. Hillary Clinton has a similar problem according to the NY Times today. It will be interesting to see what she does.

    January 4, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. josh

    I thought him the most qualified candidate for any post in the cabinet.... and I am a Republican that voted for McCain (not so much Palin). Anyway, if he is withdrawing he must have messed up BIG time... guess he had me fooled (I thought all the other dems were dirty)

    January 4, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Nick

    People are actually surprised over this? lol.....move along cattle....nothing to see here.

    January 4, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. Jose munoz

    With Clinton being the secreatary of state, it would have been awkward to have Bill Richardson, who endorsed Obama rather than her, in the cabinet. He was a sacrificial lamb slaughtered for and by the Clintons. Latinos will not forget this!

    January 4, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. empty heads voted for an empty vessel

    Let me see Obamabots, are we going to get a weeks worth of "he can't even vet his own cabinet" like you lemmings and the love filled media said ad-nauseum when McCain picked Palin?

    Don't bother, we non-sheep already know the answer, Richardson will be lauded for not putting Obambi through and MORE messes before he takes office and "he is doing this for the good of the country"...

    Liberals rationalize everything in 1, 2, 3.................

    MSDNC will find away to blame Bush or some of you geniuses will blame the Clinton's, oops, already started.

    January 4, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Joyce Becker

    What a pity as Richardson would have made a good Commerce secretary. He has excellent ethics, sorry to hear he is under investigation for corruption charges. Politicans have to be so very careful who they accept donations from and who gets contracts, it's a tangled web that is formed.

    January 4, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Dem Florida

    I like Bill Richards, he is a decent man, most Americans think so. He will still be fighting for Hispanics and every American who is struggling. Keep your head up Bill.

    January 4, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. krish

    Good Riddance, Judas.

    And to think that he was coveting the Secretary of State post. Now Hillary has it and will sail through the confirmation. This is sweeter than poetic justice set to Mariachi Band music.

    January 4, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. Carramea

    Susie. They are just trying to keep up with Republicans like Ted Stevens , and the perverts like Larry Craig. I wouldnt doubt that 80% of senators and govenors on BOTH parties are on the take. Illinois last corrupt Govenor is a Republican George Ryan. We are an equal corruptness employer

    January 4, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. Walt

    I will await further information before I consider the implications for the Obama administration. I do know that the GOP will do anything they can to discredit Obama before or after he takes office. They could never stand to have another good Democratic administration coming after another Republican disaster. It seems the Democrats are left holding the deficit bag every time after a Republican adfministration. In the meantime the GOP sits back and thinks up their usual dirty tricks like John McCains black daughter or Kerry's Swift Boat liars or new ways to steal elections. .

    January 4, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. Corruptions begets corruption

    The company the state of NM and Richardson was doing business with likely came over the border from Mexico every day filled with 30 illegals -

    January 4, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. Alex

    Innocent until proven guilty. Just because he's being investigated doesn't mean anything. Until the courts formally declare him guilty, he is an innocent man.

    January 4, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*

    Carramea– Some of your comments make no sense??? You must get your news from K-Mart or Big Lots or something.

    Some of the rest of you posters– get a life. You run off your mouths before engaging your brains. It's pretty scary to think you people are actually allowed to vote.

    January 4, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. Concerned citizen

    Just another corrupt politician that tarnishes the Obama administration.It is a shame because president elect Obama is a sincere man that cares about the people and his country.Wants to honestly make a change in america and it seems so difficult to find many honest straight shooters in either party.
    He has a tough road ahead but he is the man for the job.If anybody can make a difference he is the right decision for our country.

    January 4, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. NOBama

    Isn't change great

    January 4, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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