Bill Richardson Speaks Out On Withdrawal (VIDEO)
At a press conference in Santa Fe, Bill Richardson addressed his decision to withdraw from nomination as President-elect Barack Obama's Commerce Secretary. He said he did not want to delay the confirmation process. Richardson has become caught up in a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors. The New Mexico governor would not answer questions about the probe, including whether he had hired a lawyer. Watch:
Richardson also gave a statement on the matter Sunday:
"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 Lt. Gov. 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."