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Richardson Out as Commerce Secretary Nominee

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has withdrawn from consideration to become U.S. Secretary of Commerce in the administration of President-elect Barack Obama. Richardson is currently the subject of a federal investigation into allegations that one or more of his political donors improperly received state contracts. In a statement, Richardson said, "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." The Associated Press reports that Obama's transition team was aware of the investigation and had been assured by Richardson that the outcome would be positive, but that as a grand jury pursued the case, it became clear that Richardson's confirmation hearings would be delayed by six weeks or more until the investigation was completed. Administration spokesperson Robert Gibbs says there is no timetable for nominating another candidate for the Commerce Secretary position.

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