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Richardson pulls out of bid for commerce secretary

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By Carol A. Clark

Rocking the airwaves and sparking a barrage of Internet chatter Sunday, Gov. Bill Richardson bowed out of consideration for U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Citing the investigation into a California firm's business dealings with the State of New Mexico, which could drag on for months, along with the gravity of the economic situation facing the nation, Richardson said he could not ask President-elect Barack Obama "to delay for one day the important work that needs to be done."

News came to light in December that a federal grand jury was looking into accusations that Richardson’s administration gave lucrative contracts to CDR Financial Products Inc., of Beverly Hills. According to published reports, CDR President David Rubin gave some $100,000 to two political action committees controlled by Richardson in 2003 and 2004 and another $10,000 to his 2005 re-election campaign.

Since August, federal investigators have been specifically examining how CDR obtained two consulting contracts worth some $1.4 million to advise the state on a $1.6 billion bond program to pay for state transportation projects.

Grand jury proceedings began after an FBI probe in which investigators interviewed former and current New Mexico Finance Authority officials and sought documents from the authority about the 2004 contract with the firm.


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