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. Rob, Ohio

    Carramea, almost none of these comments are about Obama. I know you're sensitive about ANY criticism of him, but you need to read the comments more closely before you go on a "whoever didn't vote for Obama is a racist" rant.

    January 4, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. Sherrol in Canada

    Folks...folks, don't lose sight here, don't mix Blago's madness with Richcardson's withdrawl. These are two different issues.

    The questions that should be asked are:
    – Did the Obama vettors know about the FBI investigation?
    – If not, when did they find out?
    – Is Bill Richardson telling the truth?

    If Richardson is telling the truth, this will not affect Obama in a negative way and Richardson will be seen as someone who put the people first. Let's all hope this is the case.

    January 4, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Patty

    BIG suprise, HUGE suprise!! He couldn't make sure there is a decent 911 system or safe roads in New Mexico, thank goodness he's not going to be given more power. I was hoping the new Gov. was going to get a chance though...sad day for New Mexicans.

    January 4, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. change in America

    This is awful who next in line they need to check Perdue form the state of Georgia and the rest of them crooks........Sad news for President Obama.

    January 4, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. gl, Pittsburgh

    You republicans have not room to talk. Bush and his cronies are one the worst crimially ever. All this Federal investigation are done by Republicans looking to discredit Obama, but where was all the investigation into Bush Administartion. Maybe if they spend as much time as the spend on investigating Dems the US wanted be in the shape that it is becasue of all of Bush crimially cronies.

    January 4, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Paul in SC

    Wow! How much drama are we going to have to put up with the next 4 years. With Bush gone, all of this was supposed to end. Can't blame Bush for this one.

    January 4, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. Jane

    Wow. Maybe the reason he had switched from Clinton to Obama was because he knew BHO will not care for ethical misconduct. Now that the proverbial stuff has hit the fan there is nothing to do but retreat into oblivion. What a bad judgement call by BHO.

    January 4, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. Berry , Texas

    HE WON, but HE ISN'T my president. He's around himself with questionable people. All of you said. Obama has the best judgment???? HMMMMM All we will hear from OBAMA. I didn't know what is going on. I don't know about this thing at all.

    This is the TIP Of ICEBYRG. Lead by OBAMA


    January 4, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Sherrol in Canada

    I wonder who the Obama team will replace him with....Hhhhmmm!!

    January 4, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Rickymo

    The Clintons must be loving this one! The other day on cnn.com it was reported that James Carville suggested there would be more scandals...here they come! (I have no faith in either party, they are either crooks, pedophiles, religious crackpots or sexual compulsives). Pity us all.

    January 4, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. John

    Governor Richardson has shown true patriotism and integrity in withdrawing from the nomination for Secretary of Commerce. This shows that he is a man of great nobility. I sincerely hope that his decision makes for a better presidency for our President-elect. I'm quite convinced that Gov. Richardson will be able to support and serve President-elect Obama in other meaningful ways.

    Good luck Gov. Richardson. Your decision makes us admire more your quality as an American and server of this great country.

    January 4, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. Bubba

    I can't believe some folks. There is an investigation. Has everybody forgotten that it's not a conviction? Look at all the money and time they put into trying to oust Clinton.

    Richardson may be dirty, but even if he wasn't, I'm sure he has better things to do that sit thru a Republican witch hunt.

    I hope, at least, some people focus on fixing the country.

    January 4, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. Mark

    Is it me or are the republicans still in charge and control who is being investigated, it looks like they are trying to cause trouble for Obama before he gets started while they still can and make it look like they have nothing to do with it...... sad, just let the man get started and let him do what he can to fix the mess the rep party put us in

    January 4, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. a chinese american

    there is a nearly buried story about him being the driving force behind the wrongly prosecution of the Chinese "spy" Wen-Ho Lee, but has since refused to accept responsibilities. don't think it has anything to do with the signature campaign launched by some Chinese Americans (which has got more than 10,000 so far) against his confirmation, though.

    January 4, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. Ken

    They're dropping like flies already and the Obamessiah hasn't even taken office yet!! LOL!!

    I think an Obama administration may outdo the Clinton's for most corrupt administration ever.

    Way to go, dems, you're off to a great start!!!

    January 4, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  16. Sherrol in Canada

    Let's hope it's not another play for pay.

    January 4, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. kelly WI

    Obama appointed or hired 31 previous Clinton people. Makes me wonder who is running the show. Think about it.
    Dem govs are now asking for bail out money. They ruined their states with their tax and spend policies and now need help.

    January 4, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. Dan

    Probably was pushed out by Obama and his team.
    The end of the first "treator" to support Obama as a scinical move! We need clean people in politics, the way this guy behaved signal he is "all politics."

    January 4, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. bryan

    this is the most ignorant and mis-informed statement I have ever seen.

    BURNS January 4th, 2009 2:03 pm ET



    January 4, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Bill

    When the Clintons were accused of corruption and profiteering in the White Water scandal, did they resign? They said they were inncoent and so does Bill Richardson. There is more to this stroy than what we are told!

    January 4, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Sherrol in Canada

    You watch, Latinos are going to start disowning him. That would be too bad, don't you think?

    January 4, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. VA/DC/MD

    Change really means more of the same Clinton Scandals of the 90's

    January 4, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Clinton Supporter

    So I see Tubby had to withdraw. Isn't that a shame. What goes around comes around. I'm sure Bill Clinton is having a good laugh, I certainly hope so. I know I am!

    Turns out Richardson preferred Barack and his sleazy Illinois friends to Hillary Clinton. And how right he was to "stick with his own kind." Definitely not Hillary's type at all.

    There will be overwhelming silence from the Clinton camp, but personally, I'm hoping Carville says something so I can have another good laugh. He did hint that we were not through with scandals among the Democratic "leadership."

    Now I wish someone would go after Howard Dean. I guess I'll have to be satisfied with the Blagojevich nonsense for the moment. Sooner or later, the ways in which Barack himself got dirty hands will come out, too.

    I'm patient. I can wait.

    January 4, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. Concerned Citizen

    That what happens when you shave your beard off,,,,,,,,, hehheheh

    January 4, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. Bryan Rafalko

    This is too bad. While I did not agree with Richardson on loose enforcement of immigration law, I did respect him on the international scene and felt he had the experience and relationships to deal with various governments.

    I also believe he is privy to knowledge the government has been concealing regarding events in his home state from 60 years ago (Roswell), which is now being leaked out.

    He really was competent. Too bad.

    January 4, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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