I question the timing. As the Blagojavich kerfuffle festers in Illinois, Obama’s choice for Commerce Secretary – who’s currently being investigated for influence peddling – suddenly decides to fall on his sword? More likely a tanned, rested, and ready Obama returned from Hawai’i and forced Richardson to walk the plank.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state.
A federal grand jury is investigating how a California company that contributed to Richardson’s political activities won a lucrative New Mexico state contract.
It’s not selling a Senate seat, but is just the sort of quid pro quo backscratching Americans despise but have come to expect from politicians. Why he chose to bail out now is the question. This didn’t arise after Richardson’s selection for the Commerce post. Either the Obama team was incompetent in their vetting or they decided appointing a Hispanic superseded any pay-to-play concerns. Only a racist would aggressively question a Hispanic not named Alberto Gonzales, so confirmation should be smooth sailing. At least until Blago peed in the punchbowl.
Richardson, 61, was United Nations ambassador and energy secretary during the Clinton administration, and he is in his second term as New Mexico’s governor. He also served seven terms in the House of Representatives.
If he had been confirmed by the Senate as secretary of Commerce, he would have taken over a sprawling department that oversees the National Weather Service, the Census Bureau, economic development programs and more.
So the National Weather Service and Census Bureau are Commerce’s top responsibilities? I must be old fashioned. I assumed the Department of Commerce would be focused on commerce – you know – money willingly changing hands for agreed upon goods and services. Maybe fostering favorable business conditions and luring foreign investors to the US. But weather and collecting data to gerrymander congressional districts?
One of the nation’s most prominent Hispanic politicians, Richardson had pledged at the time of his nomination — in English and Spanish — to work to renew the economy.
Obama on Sunday gave no indication whom he might name to replace Richardson as the nominee but said “we must move quickly to fill the void left by Governor Richardson’s decision.”
Translation – it will take us time to find another Hispanic for the SoC post. Because once a cabinet post is to be filled by a diversity candidate it must remain a “diversity” post throughout the administration. A white female or African-American will not do. This seat must be filled by a Hispanic. Preferably one with a name more obviously Hispanic than Bill Richardson.
Adios Bill. Don’t call Obama, he’ll call you.