Bill Richardson’s sudden departure from President-elect Barack Obama’s proposed Cabinet has raised questions about the severity of the federal investigation into possible “pay-to-play” schemes at the top levels of the New Mexico government.
Richardson, the New Mexico governor, told reporters Monday that the only reason he withdrew his nomination for commerce secretary was he was concerned that a federal investigation would last longer than he originally anticipated. The federal probe centers on CDR Financial Products, which won state contracts for $1.48 million.
The governor would not speak to the specifics or seriousness of potential allegations, but he insisted Obama’s team did not pressure him to withdraw his name.
“It was my idea to withdraw,” he said.
But the fact that Richardson, who has been publicly seeking to return to Washington since the beginning of the presidential campaign, would withdraw his name from the running just weeks before confirmation hearings struck New Mexico politicos as the sign of a potentially deepening investigation.