"There were a lot of ways in which I thought I could help this country in a time of financial crisis," Richardson said during a news conference in Santa Fe Monday. "Sometimes your own dreams and plans must take a back seat to what is best for the nation.
Richardson withdrew as President-elect Barack Obama's nominee as commerce chief Sunday because of an ongoing federal investigation into an alleged "pay to play" scheme in New Mexico. A federal grand jury is looking into how CDR Financial Products of Beverly Hills, Calif., won more than $1.5 million in work advising the state after making contributions to Richardson's political action committees. Richardson and CDR have denied any wrongdoing.
"I had hoped that the CDR investigation would have concluded in December with a clean bill of health for my administration," said Richardson, who also unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination. "Since the investigation was not finished in December and, as long as the CDR investigation is ongoing, I made the decision to withdraw as the president-elect's nominee for commerce secretary rather than ask for a delay in my appointment."
As New Mexico's governor, Richardson said he would continue in a job "that I love the most," saying he was "fully engaged."