Bill Richardson Out As Commerce Secretary

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Some surprising news today, especially since Richardson was so often mentioned as a possible VP pick:

A Democratic official says New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has withdrawn his nomination to be President-elect Barack Obama’s commerce secretary.

He cited a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state as the reason, NBC News reported.

President-elect Barack Obama has accepted Richardson’s decision to withdraw with “deep regret,” according to NBC News.

Here’s more about the investigation…

A federal grand jury is investigating how an investment company won more than $1.5 million in work advising the state of New Mexico after making contributions to the political action committees of Gov. Bill Richardson, President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to be commerce secretary. […]

The FBI and federal prosecutors are focused on how the Beverly Hills-based CDR won lucrative fees from the New Mexico Finance Authority in 2004 very soon after donating $100,000 to Richardson’s efforts to register Hispanic and American Indian voters and pay for expenses at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, according to the sources. FBI agents have already asked numerous witnesses whether the governor’s aides were involved in CDR’s hiring.

Looks like there’s fire in that smoke, otherwise Richardson wouldn’t be pulling out.

More as it develops…