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.

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(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. Ernie in LA

    Texas Teacher surely is quite. What was that about Republicans again?

    January 4, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. Brandon4Hillary

    So Glad Judas is OUT Serves him right the backstabbing climber.
    First Blagojevich now Richardson yes the change is finally appearing The only thing good about this administration will be the secretary of state.
    Hillary 2016!

    January 4, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. Jenny

    Gimme, gimme, gimme... these democrate politicians being outed in the media of late seem to think you can sell senate seats, business opportunities, etc.

    But what is most concerning is that our PE has been hobnobbing with them like nothing has been going on during his time as a senator...either he is blind as a bat (which isn't good for our country...think 'naive') or he has been purposefully turning a blind eye to things that are wrong...neither bodes well.

    And how can he say that he is looking forward to a future in which Richardson will serve with him politically when the investigation is still ongoing?

    January 4, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. Sam

    This shows that Obama is a regular plitician. He is not Mosia.

    January 4, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  5. MorningStar

    Say What?

    January 4, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. Mike in NYC

    Did the BO team just get a little less "diverse"?

    No fear. SOC is no doubt reserved for a "minority," just like Illinois' junior Senate seat.

    January 4, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. karen

    Payback is a need I say more, Karma never fails and I continue to tell you little nasty people on these blogs that say such vile things about some of these people, it will come to you and yours too.

    January 4, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. Concerned Texan

    Just political business as usual. Democrats and Republicans alike are all just men and women with a proclivity for greed. This is not a problem that can be attached to any particular party, but better yet it is one of the reasons/perks that cause some to aspire to be politicians in the first place. They know full well what’s at stake here just as CEO's, bankers, pimps and preachers understand that there is great opportunity for personal financial gain in all these vocations if you are so qualified. I believe given the opportunity most of us would get caught up in the easy pickings that are available in these different positions

    January 4, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    No tears being shed with me.

    I wrote Richardson off for any position in Obama's cabinet because of his outrageous and disloyal treatment of Hillary Clinton during the primaries.

    What goes around comes around, Governor Richardson.

    January 4, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. Carolyn Greene

    STOP STOP STOP!!! The man has not even been sworn in yet and you vultures are still trying to find ways to pick his bones ! Are you so fearful that you can't come from your dark corners to see the sunlight and smell the fresh air? You who creat this supposed news (gossip) going inorder to cause distraction and comotion , have become like dogs chasing their tails. STOP! and look to the future and stop placing stumbling blocks in the way of progress! WE DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS FOOLISHNESS ("investigations") LET US PUT THIS COUNTRY BACK ON IT'S FEET AND STOP TEARING IT DOWN.

    January 4, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. New Mexican Resident

    The real Bill got caught and was shown the door by Obama.

    Knowing how state business is done in New Mexico, there is reason to believe that there are merits to the allegations. In any event, the truth will emerge big enough to fill the Bill and he a jail cell.

    January 4, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. Ted

    @ Burns:
    Wow. Wow. Just, wow.
    Also, are people still sore over the primary endorsement? Really, there's no such thing as a turncoat in politics. You endorse who you want.

    January 4, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. Perusing-Through

    ALTHOUGH THIS COMES AS A SHOCK AND I'M VERY DISASPPOINTED, , , , , , , I thank you Gov. Bill Richardson for having the wisdom to act unselfishly and allow this sideshow to be taken offline and out of the nations way; so we the people of the United States can right this ship and fix the "Bush/Cheney/Rove/Rumsfeld" disaster. Gov. Bill Richardson, the people of this nation are happy you did not take the same road Senator John Edwards took which was to knowingly place the Democratic Party in a risky situation with full knowledge of questionable baggage emanating from your closet.

    January 4, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  14. carol

    That is absolutely right for him to step down, we don't want any shady characters from day one in the new administration.....PE Obama needs to keep everything and everyone above the fray, we've had enough scandal's to last us a lifetime that have come from both sides of the isle!!!

    January 4, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. Carlos

    "...absolute power corrupts absolutely." Term limits please.

    January 4, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. debbie

    I'm sorry to see this because I like Richardson. But, I understand his wish not to taint the new administration or be the cause of distraction. As to Latinos' being disappointed – their disappointment should not be with Richardson, not Obama. Obama demonstrated faith in Richardson in nominating him knowing full well that this investigation was going on. Latinos should be proud if anything that Richardson is putting his country above his personal gain in declining to drag us through more mud.

    January 4, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  17. Jon

    I doubt Richardson committed any wrong-doing. He has been a committed public servant for years without hint of scandal. That said, I hope these allegations are fully explored so that he might be exonerated.

    Good for him in voluntarily withdrawing his nomination until these claims are settled.

    January 4, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. Bill in Albuquerque

    I'm a Dem who voted for Obama, but Richardson and his buddies are dirty. Most state employees were happy to see him leave NM and have the Lt Gov step in.
    I'm sure he is guilty and that's why he was asked to step down.

    January 4, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. clifford

    More Democratic shananagans!!

    January 4, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. S Callahan

    Investigations happen all the time ...one only needs an allegation...but allegations don't necessarily mean truth. Politics is dirty..and will decieve the public through tools like this. I am so sorry for you Gov. Richardson...
    I only wish you had paused your role and stayed unwavering in letting the truth come out. You were destined for Secrectary of State but that didn't work out..sadly. Perhaps this is God leading you in areas that are more vital. My prayers are with you and your family.

    January 4, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  21. Joe the Drummer

    Maybe Obama can appoint a secretary of commerce who will end free trade and the outsourcing of American jobs.

    January 4, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. Sean Chong

    Why everytime a Democrat got caught, he/she is often too willing to withdraw or resign? And everytime a Republican got caught, he/she refuses to admit their mistakes (like Ted Stevens)?

    January 4, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  23. Honest Abe

    I told him not to shave the beard.

    January 4, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. clifford

    Texas Teacher and Proud American: Is any of this sinking in yet?? Hello! is anyone home??

    January 4, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. Bill

    I wasn't a Clinton supporter, so I don't have any ax to grind with Richardson, but I just don't see him as the best choice for this post, a key post in our current economic climate. I've seen him do interviews and he just doesn't seem like the kind of exceptionally intelligent individual the rest of Obama's cabinet seem to be.

    January 4, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
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