New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has withdrawn from his nomination to be Barack Obama’s Secretary of Commerce amid a grand jury investigation, reports the International Herald Tribune.

“The president-elect and the governor, close friends as well as political allies, announced the withdrawal in joint statements. Richardson, one of the nation’s best-known Latino politicians, promised to stay on as governor and said his administration had “acted properly in all matters.” But he said he had concluded that the inquiry could last weeks or even months, drawing out his confirmation hearings and distracting the new administration as it grappled with the economic crisis.

“Obama said he accepted “with deep regret” Richardson’s decision to bow out. People familiar with discussions between the two men said that while the president-elect did not press Richardson to step aside, neither did Obama try to talk him out of it.”

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