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

Sources: Bill Richardson withdrawing as Cabinet nominee

ALT TEXT

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.

Full story

(Full statements from Obama and Richardson after the jump)

STATEMENT OF PRESIDENT ELECT BARACK OBAMA:
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.

STATEMENT OF GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON:

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. Larry, Hazleton, Pa

    Sounds like Mr Richardson is doing the right thing – he knows there is a possible cloud and does no want to put the new adminsitration thru this kind of mess – I feel certain that Mr Obama will be able to find a good replacement and they will continue to move forward. Good luck to Mr Richardson.

    January 4, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. busher

    wasnt due diligence done on this guy? not a good start here

    January 4, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. JASON FROM LA

    YO.. SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT BECAUSE WHY WOULD HE WITHDRAW? WHY WOULD HE WITHDRAW... WHILE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE FOCUSED ON THE ISRAEL-GAZA CONFLICT?
    I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU GUYS BUT FOR SOME STRANGE REASON I THINK HILLARY CLINTON HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THIS SCANDAL... ALL BECAUSE SHE WANTED HER DEBT TO GET PAID!!!

    I

    January 4, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  4. PA

    Obama did not blindside Richardson by choosing Hilary! I don't doubt that Obama choose Hillary because he knew about Richardson's ties with the California Company and the majority world wide knew that Hillary was the Best choice for SOS. I never had a good feeling about Bill Richardson there was always something about him that made me feel uneasy and he still makes me feel the same way. He turncoated the Clintons who were his loyal supporters when he realized he would have an offer for a Cabinet Position. What more would anyone need to know about the man.

    January 4, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. Clinton Supporter

    Hey, Obama worshippers, guess what? Grand juries don't convene unless there is strong evidence that a crime has been committed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    Richardson betrayed Hillary Clinton, and it turns out she was one lucky lady! Bill Clinton is rolling on the floor laughing at this moment. I'm with him.

    Richardson prefers Illinois politics. They're right up his alley.

    Maybe he'll grow back his Hispanic look and lose 100 pounds as a result of pressure and stress. Obama cut him loose INSTANTLY!

    I guess there is no honor among thieves after all.

    January 4, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. CA Indie for Obama

    Our legal system (not justice) is based on innocent until proven guilty. In politics, it is guilty until proven innocent. Unlike Ted Stevens, et al, Gov. Richardson is showing the dignity and honor by withdrawing his name for Commerce Secretary. Better now than later.

    Hope he is found not guilty; if not, let him roast.

    January 4, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Michael Levinson

    Does the poster named "Carramea" also believe that Blagojevich is innocent until proven guilty? It would be nice if people took the blinders off. America needs patriots not partisans like Carramea!

    January 4, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. ANDY AMES

    BOSTON!!!! NOW THERE'S A GOOD SOURCE FOR TRUTH JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY...NOT!

    January 4, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. New Mexico chica

    I'm shocked. He has come a long way. I'm surprised this allegation is just now coming out. In addition, is there any politician who hasn't given a "perk" to someone who helped them climb to the top? I doubt he's the first. I am interested in learning more in days to come. Diane Denish is not so happy, I'm sure.

    January 4, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. Ed Lawler

    It's not only richardson, it's the majority of the Yahoo's we've sent to Washinton

    January 4, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Jeff From Jersey

    There aren't ANY politicians from EITHER that aren't investigated sooner or later.I'll wait and see if these allegations are actually true before I judge him.

    BURNS
    I would absolutely LOVE to see the results of an investigation into your sad,lonely life.I'll bet they'd find all kinds of dirty little secrets hiding there.That much hate must run very,very deep.I'll bet the light hurts you so much that your blinds are drawn and there are a bunch of empty beer cans scattered about with the tattered remains of Vietnam and a picture of Nixon you once used for target practice.
    GET HELP!

    January 4, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. Pat in IL

    Richardson is a man of intelligence and intregity. Withdrawing from the cabinet post at this time proves that to be true. He is putting the country first, and not letting political distractions get in the way of moving forward.

    January 4, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. AZ

    Hmmm.....blame it on global warming....

    January 4, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. Mike

    Sherrol in Canada:

    That would be stupid. If Gov. Richardson is tainted it wouldn't make much difference wich post he held when the scandal breaks. Especially now with the economy down Commerce is as important as State.

    January 4, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. Critical Thinker

    Larry of Boston: Until you can adequately explain Palin, keep it moving.

    Did anyone think that perhaps Obama and his team knew about this but figured it would clear up in time for the nomination process? Is anyone thinking that perhaps it is why he offered his Commerce and not SOS?
    WHY, OH WHY DO YOU PEOPLE STAY HATEFUL? DO YOU NOT SEE HOW RIDICULOUS AND IRRATIONAL YOUR HATE CONTINUES TO MAKE YOU?

    January 4, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. Texas Teacher

    BURNS January 4th, 2009 2:03 pm ET

    DEMS ALREADY JUMPING A SINKING SHIP...
    --------------------

    Burns, look at it this way.... old time, good ole boy politics are on their way out! Doesn't matter which party. We are beginning to see the death throes...... I, for one, am cheering! We have to have these growing pains in order the make it different from this day forward!

    Obama is heralding in a new era...let's just pray that it sticks! And as long as the People stay involved... it just might be the dawning of the new day in the U.S.

    January 4, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Jeff

    Good! He's a Clinton traitor!

    January 4, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Conservative Democrat

    Matt, Richardson dropped out of the race because he was losing. Had he endorsed Hillary and she won the nomination, he still would have gotten a Cabinet post. He endorsed the candidate that had already won. He didn't do anything special. The primaries were practically over when he made his endorsement.

    January 4, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. ANDY AMES

    CPH9680???? WHAT THE HEY IS THAT? YOU A ROBOT?! COME OUT OF THE CLOSET.

    January 4, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. Integrity?

    Integrity is not committing the crime in the first place.

    Let's stop forgiving corrupt politicians (on both sides).

    January 4, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. David

    I guess Mr. Carville's predictions are starting to come true. Our political system is a disgrace. I am not saying Bill Richardson is guilty. He seems to be respectable. However, we need to get corporate money out of politics. Coporate America should only get to voice an opinion on how legislation will affect their business. I think we should add a one time $5 payroll tax each year to fund campaigns. This should give us around a billion dollars every year to be used solely for elections. Members of Congress will be allowed to use $30,000,000 each per election. The Presidential candidates can use $200,000,000 each.

    January 4, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. New Mexican

    Richardson is a great governor, and would have made a great SOC. But no one can stand in the way of fixing this economy – ASAP. And that's why Richardson has stepped back. I support both Richardson and Obama for their integrity and honor.

    January 4, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. Mwalimu Daudi

    Don't worry. The Obama administration will easily find another sleazebag to replace him. The Democrat Party is awash in them.

    January 4, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. seg from houston

    Whoa . . . and do I see Jas. Carville, my CNN hero, dancin' in the streets?

    January 4, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  25. FreeNLovIt

    I dont understand this at all. How come Obama's staff are scrutinized left and right and dropping like flies, but W and Chen ey got free rides. For eight years, there's no investigation on no-contract with Halliburton??? The measuring stick is higher for Demo Donkeys? I know ELEPHANTS have big butts so it's makes it easy for them to sit on anyone who dares to investigate??

    January 4, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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