Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC is reporting that Bill Richardson is withdrawing his name for Commerce Secretary because he does not feel that a grand jury investigation into his financial relationship with one of his donors will be concluded in time for him to be confirmed.
Carol Leonig in the Washington Post wrote 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 "pay-to-play" investigation is looking at whether the governor’s office played a role in the the hiring of CDR Financial Products — and the probe is in a highly active stage, two sources familiar with the matter said. Tomorrow in Albuquerque, the grand jury is expected to hear testimony from several witnesses, including officials at J.P. Morgan, who worked with the state and CDR on the state’s investments, and from Richard’s political action committee, the sources said.
Mitchell says that she thinks Richardson really tried to hang on and is deeply disappointed.
Update: From NBC News:
Obama said Sunday he accepted Richardson’s decision to withdraw 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," Obama said.
Richardson says that his administration "acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact," and that he also plans to remain as Governor.
Update II: Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican is on MSNBC says that members of Richardson’s administration have been testifying before the grand jury and it is not known whether Richardson himself is a subject of the investigation. "All I can say is that something must have changed," said Terrell.