Barack Obama’s nominee for commerce secretary, the governor of the US state of New Mexico Bill Richardson (photo, from aljazeera.net), has withdrawn, say reports.
He withdrew amid an ongoing probe into how a California company that contributed to the former Democratic presidential hopeful’s political activities won a lucrative New Mexico state contract.
“Let me say unequivocally that I and my administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact”, Mr Richardson said in comments posted on the NBC News website.
“But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process.”
In a statement Mr Obama said he had accepted Mr Richardson’s withdrawal from the post with “deep regret”.
Mr Richardson, 61, is one of the best known Hispanic politicians in the US. He was an energy secretary under former US president Bill Clinton, and is currently in his second term as New Mexico’s governor.
Mr Richardson has also led a number of delicate diplomatic missions and was believed to have been on the shortlist to become the next secretary of state, a post Mr Obama gave to Hillary Clinton, his former presidential rival.