Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) explained his reasons for resigning as Barack Obama's appointee for Secretary of Commerce during a press conference in Sante Fe, New Mexico today. Richardson faces a grand-jury investigation into whether he exchanged state contracts with CDR Financial Products for political contributions.
"As you all know I have asked the President-elect not to move forward with my nomination at this time," Richardson said.
A quick disclaimer followed: "I want to emphasize that I acted promptly and my administration acted properly too. A fair and impartial review of the facts will bear that out."
Watch the press conference here:
Richardson told the media that the timing of the investigation would likely slow his confirmation.
"Unfortunately the ongoing CDR investigation would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process and given the gravity of the economic situation the nation is facing I could not in good conscience act the president-elect and his administration to delay for one day the important work that needs to be done," he said.
"While this decision was a difficult one, I think it was the right thing to do," Richardson continued. "I made the decision over the weekend after exploring my options. I had hoped that the CDR investigation would have concluded in December with a clean bill of health for my administration. Since the investigation was not concluded in December and since the CDR investigation is ongoing I made the decision to withdrawal at the President-elect's nominee for Commerce Secretary rather than ask for a delay in my appointment."
"As you might expect I am disappointed in the turn of events," the dejected governor added. "Sometimes your own dreams and plans must take a back seat to what is best for the nation."
Richardson seemed optimistic that he would still serve in the Obama administration down the road. "The President-elect said in his statement yesterday that he looks forward to my future service in his administration," he said. "I still believe I have a lot to give iin public service."