Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Bill Richardson has withdrawn his name from consideration for the post of commerce secretary. The New Mexico governor says he is concerned that a grand jury investigation into a company that has done business with his state might delay the confirmation process.

Obama tapped Richardson to head the Commerce Department last month, to the delight of enviros who praised his strong record on climate and energy issues.

“Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact,” he said in a statement. “But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process.”

Obama said in a statement that he is accepting the decision “with deep regret.” “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,” said Obama.

“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,” Obama continued. “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.”

Obama made no mention of possible new nominees for the post.