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.

Full story

(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. ml - California

    Well Richardson, you betrayed Hillary during the campaign. So, perhaps this is payback to you, for pulling such a stunt! You know. it is said "what goes around, comes around"!

    January 4, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. rachel

    karwolo it is defintely about loyalty and Richardson showed no loyalty to the clinton and after his endorsement of Obama he continously whinned about Bill Clinton not liking him any more. Looks like Bill Richardson is not the paragon of virtue people thought. He wanted to be a part of this administration so bad he turned on his friends and then accepted a position that was thought to be well below his level and now he is under investigation. I bet he was told to to withdraw when he accepted the nod he was probably already aware they were looking into his dealings, or did obama transition team skimp on vetting him because they were too busy finding out the color of Bill Clinton underwear in 1992.

    January 4, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  3. Waiting for Jan. 20

    Obama, and our nation, obviously face great challenges.

    I hope that Obama can maintain the pressure on the members of his administration to hold to high ethical standards.

    I'm glad that Governor Richardson won't be the cause of any wasted time for this upcoming administration.

    Our nation doesn't need more scandal or distraction. We had enough of that for the past 8 years. But, wow, so many people have unwittingly made things more difficult for Obama going as far back as the primaries! Obama couldn't even leave his senate seat without some corrupt person (Governor of Illinois) making that a scandal! LOL! It's such a ridiculous pattern that it seems like some sort of conspiracy against Obama! Sheesh! I hope Obama makes it his mission to make government so transparent to the public that the corruption in Congress and in state governments is burned by the light of day.

    Go, Obama! I can't wait to see you as our president!!! 🙂

    January 4, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. Jane

    Another example of Obama's bad judgement. Wasn't his good judgement that he claimed was so great throughout the elections? 60 million Americans duped into voting for a regular politician. No New Path, No real Change.

    January 4, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Richardson is a man of integrity and is always willing to do the right thing not in self interest alone but in the interest of the democrat party. Blago and Burris could learn a lot from Richardson.

    January 4, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Susan

    all politicians are same

    January 4, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  7. Steve B.

    To Carramea: We (Republicans) will surely give Obama all the support and fair opportunity that you Democrats gave Bush when he started his presidency, which as I recall was about zero!!!!!!!

    January 4, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  8. Ken Sawyer

    He might flee to Chicago.

    January 4, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. frank

    i didnt trust ricardson, i thought he was a turn coat rat.. Mexican American from Texas.

    January 4, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. Peter

    Please find another scapegoat other than the Clintons. It's trite, unintelligent and worst of all, unimaginative. Let's all come up with something new. Lets see... How about karma?

    January 4, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. New Yorker

    Texas Teacher, No comment? in regard to one of your liberal friends? Kind of tongue tied by this one, eh?

    susie, Don't forget the "Emperor" Governor Eliot Spitzer, that "fine" Democrat from New York who resigned a short time ago because of his scandalous and illegal activity. And, he got off scott free after prosecuting others for the same crime! Just one of many Deocrats who bit the dust. Republicans may not have a perfect record but if you LOOK at the record you will see that Democrats have FAR LESS integrity, in general.

    January 4, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. Meka

    It's apparent that, during the "Obama Transition Team-Investigation", this information was discovered. It would have been even more "Critical", if Richardson had been selected as Sec. Of State!

    January 4, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Mari

    The far-right-nay-sayers, WILL BE EATING CROW.............SOON. I WILL BE LAUGHING!

    Good, I am glad Richardson is withdrawing.



    January 4, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    good riddance

    January 4, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  15. Fernando

    Come one really? This will be great news for the conservatives. I really think hes innocent but the Repubs are going to bounce on this and convict him before the investigation even reveals anything

    January 4, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. Tim

    You bloggers who are complaining about the news are as guilty as the news you complain about. ALL of this is based solely on speculation. No one has been found guilty of anything so far. It is an investigation. Those take time. It is possible – maybe? – that Richardson simply does not want a lengthy investigation to get in the way of Obama's progress. But who knows, other than those of you who (apparently) have all the facts already to prove him guilty of something.

    January 4, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. Bob F.

    I thought Bill RIchardson was different. It makes me sad.....

    January 4, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  18. Too graphic

    Are there no end to those blue signs?

    January 4, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  19. New Yorker

    richard rohde, Sorry, but if the charges are true this does NOT show integrity one bit. Rather, it shows that he knew ahead of time that he was caught Where did you go to school?

    January 4, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. New Day

    Its unfortunate but, this is how our politicians should behave. They should always put the country's business first. I didn't see Cheney, Rumsfeld or W step down when they broke the law. I didnt see Bill Clinton step down. Hell, Blagojevich is still in office and Ted Stevens refused to step down before he eventually lost the election. I think we should stop playing these stupid political games and realize that, for the first time in a long time, our leaders are acting like leaders.

    January 4, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  21. Patrick

    I used to have a lot of respect for this guy, that's all dissapeared. How many democrats can get busted before they start to lose support?

    January 4, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  22. jfc53

    I'm no fan of Richardson and think the cabinet will be stronger without him, but I'm so tired of the current witch hunt mentality taking politicians down before anything has been proved.

    January 4, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  23. Brad/San Diego

    Why don't you republicans spooks get off of OBAMA back he won and you sorry people can't stand it, that a republican will not be in the white house because most of the american people are fed up with republican crooks and lies. All the republicans wanted to do is send our jobs overseas and get big tax breaks, and the poor people did with out. Now we will have person the white house that look out for us and not just a few.

    January 4, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  24. Joe Fattal

    From Chicago to New Mexico " All aboard". Next stop is ..........................? Does the Obama transition team or Obama himself investigate who they hire, or its a favor returned.

    January 4, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. Brian

    LOL. Team of Rivals? More like Team of Corruption. When does Rahmbo step down?

    January 4, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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