Bill Richardson

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Bill Richardson
Bill Richardson

Governor Bill Richardson in Kensington, New Hampshire, 2006

Assumed office 
January 1, 2003
Lieutenant Diane Denish
Preceded by Gary E. Johnson

In office
August 18, 1998 – January 20th, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Federico Peña
Succeeded by Spencer Abraham

In office
February 13, 1997 – August 18, 1998
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Madeleine Albright
Succeeded by Richard Holbrooke

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1983 – February 13, 1997
Preceded by N/A (newly created district)
Succeeded by William T. Redmond

Born November 15, 1947 (1947-11-15) (age 61)
Pasadena, California, USA
Political party Democratic
Spouse Barbara Richardson
Residence Santa Fe, New Mexico
Alma mater Tufts University
Occupation Diplomat, Business Consultant
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Welcome to the New Mexico Office of the Governor, Bill Richardson

William Blaine "Bill" Richardson III (born November 15, 1947) is a Democratic politician and the current Governor of New Mexico. Prior to being elected governor, Richardson served in the Clinton administration as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Energy Secretary. Richardson has also served as a U.S. Congressman, chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. On December 3, 2008, then-President-elect Barack Obama designated Richardson for appointment to the cabinet-level position of Commerce Secretary.[1] On January 4, 2009, Richardson announced his decision to withdraw his nomination as a result of an investigation into improper business dealings in New Mexico.[2][3][4]


[edit] Early life and education

Bill Richardson was born in Pasadena, California.[5][6] His father, William Blaine Richardson Jr. (died in 1972), was an American Citibank executive[5][6] who grew up in Boston, Massachusetts[5] and lived and worked in Mexico City.[6] His mother, María Luisa López-Collada Márquez[6] is the Mexican daughter of a Spanish father from Villaviciosa, Asturias, Spain and a Mexican mother[7][5][8][9] and was his father's secretary[6] and a socialite.[8] Richardson's father was born in Nicaragua.[6] Just before Richardson was born, his father sent his mother to California to give birth because, as Richardson explained, "My father had a complex about not having been born in the United States."[6] Richardson, a U.S. citizen by birthright, was raised during his childhood in Mexico City.[6][8] At age 13, Richardson's parents sent him to Massachusetts to attend a preparatory school, Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, where he played baseball as a pitcher.[6] He entered Tufts University[5][10] in 1966 where he continued to play baseball.[11]

Richardson's original biographies stated that he had been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics and the Chicago Cubs to play professional baseball, but a 2005 Albuquerque Journal investigation revealed that he never was on any official draft. Richardson acknowledged the error which he claimed was unintentional, saying that he had been scouted by several teams and told that he "would or could" be drafted, but was mistaken in saying that he was actually drafted.[12]

In 1967, he pitched in the amateur Cape Cod Baseball League for the Cotuit Kettleers in Cotuit, Massachusetts. A Kettleers program included the words "Drafted by K.C." The information which according to the investigation was generally provided by the players or their college coaches. Richardson said:

When I saw that program in 1967, I was convinced I was drafted...And it stayed with me all these years.[13]

He earned a Bachelor's degree at Tufts in 1970, majoring in French and political science and was a brother and president of Delta Tau Delta. He went on to earn a master's degree in international affairs from Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1971. While still in high school, he met his future wife, Barbara Flavin. They married in 1972 and have no children.

[edit] Early political career

After college, Richardson worked for Republican Congressman F. Bradford Morse from Massachusetts. He was later a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Richardson worked on congressional relations for the Henry Kissinger State Department during the Nixon Administration.

[edit] U.S. Congressman

Bill Richardson as a congressman

In 1978, Richardson moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and ran for Congress in 1980 as a Democrat, losing narrowly to longtime 1st District congressman and future United States Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan (R). Two years later, Richardson was elected to New Mexico's newly-created third district, taking in most of the northern part of the state. Richardson spent a little more than 14 years in Congress, during which time he represented the country's most diverse district and held 2,000 town meetings.[8]

Richardson served as Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the 98th Congress (1983–1985) and as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Native American Affairs in the 103rd Congress (1993–1994). While in the House, Richardson sponsored bills such as the Indian Tribal Justice Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments, the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act, the American Indian Agricultural Resource Management Act, the Indian Dams Safety Act, the Tribal Self-Governance Act, the Indian Tribal Jurisdiction Bill (commonly known as the “Duro Fix”) and the Jicarilla Apache Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act.

Bill Richardson (center), as the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, circa 1984.

He became a member of the Democratic leadership as a deputy majority whip, where he befriended Bill Clinton after they worked closely on several issues,[8] including serving as the ranking House Democrat in favor of NAFTA's passage in 1993[1]. Clinton in turn sent Richardson on various foreign policy missions, including a trip in 1996 in which Richardson traveled to Baghdad with Peter Bourne and engaged in lengthy one-on-one negotiations with Saddam Hussein to secure the release of two American aerospace workers who had been captured by the Iraqis after wandering over the Kuwaiti border. Richardson also visited Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, India, North Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Sudan to represent U.S. interests and met with Slobodan Milosevic.[8] Due to these missions, Richardson was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.[8]

[edit] U.S. Secretary of Energy

Richardson as Secretary of Energy

The Senate confirmed Richardson to be Clinton's Secretary of Energy on July 31, 1998. His tenure at the Department of Energy was marred by the Wen Ho Lee nuclear espionage scandal, during which Richardson publicly named Lee, an employee at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, as a suspect who might have given nuclear secrets to the Chinese government; Lee later was cleared of espionage charges and won a settlement against the federal government for the accusation.[14] Richardson was also criticized by the Senate for his handling of the espionage inquiry, which involved missing hard drives with sensitive data, by not testifying in front of Congress sooner. Richardson justified his response by saying that he was waiting to uncover more information before speaking to Congress.[15] Republican Senators called for Richardson's resignation while both parties criticized his role in the incident, and the scandal ended Richardson's hope of being named as Al Gore's running mate for the 2000 presidential election.[8]

Richardson tightened security as a result of the scandal, along with becoming the first Energy Secretary with a plan to dispose of nuclear waste.[8] He created the Director for Native American Affairs position in the Department in 1998, and in January 2000 oversaw the largest return of federal lands, 84,000 acres (340 km²), to an Indian Tribe (the Northern Ute Tribe of Utah) in more than 100 years.[16] Richardson also directed the overhaul of the Department's consultation policy with Native American tribes and established the Tribal Energy Program.

[edit] Educational and corporate positions

With the end of the Clinton administration in January 2001, Richardson took on a number of different positions. He was an adjunct professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a lecturer at the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West.[17] In 2000, Bill Richardson was awarded a United States Institute of Peace Senior Fellowship. He spent the next year researching and writing on the negotiations with North Korea and the energy dimensions of U.S. relations.

Richardson also joined Kissinger McLarty Associates, a "strategic advisory firm" headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Clinton White House chief of staff Mack McLarty, as Senior Managing Director.[18] From February 2001 to June of 2002, he served on the board of directors of Peregrine Systems, Inc. He also served on the corporate boards of several energy companies, including Valero Energy Corporation and Diamond Offshore Drilling. He withdrew from these boards after being nominated by the Democratic Party for governor of New Mexico, but retained considerable stock holdings in Valero and Diamond Offshore.[19] He would later sell these stocks during his campaign for President in 2007, saying he was "getting questions" about the propriety of these holdings, especially given his past as energy secretary, and that it had become a distraction.[20]

[edit] Governor of New Mexico

At a 2008 campaign event in Londonderry, New Hampshire

Richardson was elected governor of New Mexico in November 2002, having defeated the Republican candidate, John Sanchez, 56–39%. During the campaign, he set a Guinness World Record for most handshakes in eight hours by a politician, breaking Theodore Roosevelt's record.[21] He succeeded a two-term Republican governor, Gary E. Johnson. He took office in January 2003 as the only Hispanic Governor in the United States, other than then-Governor Sila María Calderón of Puerto Rico. In his first year, Richardson proposed "tax cuts to promote growth and investment" and passed a broad personal income tax cut and won a statewide special election to transfer money from the state's Permanent Fund to meet current expenses and projects. In early 2005, Richardson made New Mexico the first state in the nation to provide $400,000 in life insurance coverage for New Mexico National Guardsmen who serve on active duty. Thirty-five states have since followed suit.

Working with the legislature, he formed Governor Richardson's Investment Partnership (GRIP) in 2003. The partnership has been used to fund large-scale public infrastructure projects throughout New Mexico, including, through the use of highway funds, a brand new commuter rail line (the Rail Runner) that runs between Belen, Albuquerque, and Bernalillo. He supported LGBT rights in his career as governor; he added sexual orientation and gender identity to New Mexico's list of civil rights categories. During the summer of 2003, he met with a delegation from North Korea at their request to discuss concerns over that country's use of nuclear energy. At the request of the White House, he also flew to North Korea in 2005, and met with another North Korean delegation in 2006. On December 7, 2006, Richardson was named as the "Special Envoy for Hemispheric Affairs" for the Secretary General of the Organization of American States with the mandate to "promote dialogue on issues of importance to the region, such as immigration and free trade."[22]

In 2003, Richardson backed and signed legislation creating a permit system for New Mexicans to carry concealed handguns. He applied for and received a concealed weapons permit, though by his own admission he seldom carries a gun.[23]

As discussed frequently on CNN, Richardson supported the New Mexico policy of giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.[citation needed] He was named Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association and announced a desire to increase the role of Democratic governors in deciding the future of their party.

In December 2005, Richardson announced the intention of New Mexico to partner with billionaire Richard Branson to bring space tourism to the proposed Spaceport America located near Las Cruces, New Mexico. In 2006, Forbes credited Richardson's reforms in naming Albuquerque, New Mexico the best city in the U.S. for business and careers. The Cato Institute, meanwhile, has consistently rated Richardson as one of the most fiscally responsible Democratic governors in the nation.

In March 2006, Richardson vetoed legislation that would ban the use of eminent domain to transfer property to private developers, as allowed by the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London.[24] He promised to work with the legislature to draft new legislation addressing the issue in the 2007 legislative session.

On September 7, 2006, Richardson flew to Sudan to meet Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and successfully negotiated the release of imprisoned journalist Paul Salopek. Salopek had been charged by the Sudanese with espionage on August 26, 2006, while on a National Geographic assignment. In January 2007, at the request of the Save Darfur Coalition, he brokered a 60-day cease fire between al-Bashir and leaders of several rebel factions in Darfur, the western Sudanese region. The cease-fire never became effective, however, with allegations of breaches on all sides.[25]

Richardson won his second term as Governor of New Mexico on November 7, 2006, 68–32% against former New Mexico Republican Party Chairman John Dendahl. Richardson received the highest percentage of votes in any gubernatorial election in the state's history.[26]

In December 2006, Richardson announced that he would support a ban on cockfighting in New Mexico.[27] On March 12, 2007, Richardson signed into law a bill that would ban cockfighting in New Mexico. Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam are now the only part of the United States where cockfighting is legal.[28]

During New Mexico's most recent legislative session, Richardson signed a bill into law that made New Mexico the 12th state to legalize marijuana for medical reasons. When asked if this would hurt him in a Presidential election, he stated that it did not matter, as it was "the right thing to do."[29]

Richardson's current term in office ends in 2011 and he is term-limited from a third term as governor.[30]

Richardson is currently "facing possible legal issues" while a federal grand jury investigates for possible pay to play violations in the awarding of a lucrative state contract to a company that gave campaign contributions to Richardson's political action committee, Moving America Forward.[31][32][33] The company in question, CDR, is alleged to have "funneled" more than $100,000 in donations to Richardson's PAC in exchange for state construction projects.[34] Richardson said when he withdraw his Commerce Secretary nomination that he is innocent; his popularity has since slipped below 50% in his home state.[34]

On March 18, 2009, Governor Richardson's office confirmed that he had signed a bill repealing the death penalty[35].

[edit] 2008 presidential campaign

Richardson campaigning in Elko, Nevada; July 2007

Richardson was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential election but dropped out on January 10, 2008 after lackluster showings in the first primary and caucus contests. Despite his long history with the Clinton family, Richardson endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination on March 21, 2008.[36] Commentator and Clinton ally James Carville famously compared Richardson to Judas Iscariot for the move.[37] Richardson responded in a Washington Post article, feeling "compelled to defend [himself] against character assassination and baseless allegations."[38]

Richardson was a rumored Vice Presidential candidate for Senator and Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama and was fully vetted by the Obama campaign,[39] before Obama chose Joe Biden on August 23, 2008.[40]

[edit] Secretary of Commerce nomination

Following Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election, Richardson's name was frequently mentioned as a possible Cabinet appointment in the incoming Obama administration. Most of this speculation surrounded the position of Secretary of State, given Richardson's background as a diplomat.[41] Richardson did not publicly comment on the speculation.[42]

It was widely reported, and eventually officially announced, that Hillary Clinton was Obama's nominee for Secretary of State. Around this time, it was reported that Richardson was being strongly considered for the position of Commerce Secretary. On December 3, 2008, Obama tapped Richardson for the post.[43]

On January 4, 2009, Richardson withdrew his name as Commerce Secretary nominee because of the federal grand jury investigation into pay-to-play dealings.[44] The New York Times had reported in late December that the grand jury investigation issue would be raised at Richardson's confirmation hearings.[32]

[edit] Books authored

Richardson is credited with having written two books:

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Crowley, Candy; Ed Hornick; Kristi Keck; Paul Steinhauser (2008-12-03). "Obama nominates Richardson for Cabinet". Retrieved on 2008-12-14. 
  2. ^ Richardson withdraws as Commerce nominee
  3. ^ Bill Richardson bows out of commerce secretary job
  4. ^ Bill Richardson Withdraws as Commerce Secretary-Designate
  5. ^ a b c d e "Obama Taps Bill Richardson For Commerce". CBS News. 2008-12-02. Retrieved on 2008-12-14. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Joel Achenbach (2007-05-27). "The Pro-Familia Candidate". Washington Post. Retrieved on 2008-01-01. 
  7. ^ The Ancestry of Bill Richardson
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Plotz, David (June 23, 2000). "Energy Secretary Bill Richardson". Retrieved on 2008-11-07. 
  9. ^ "Illinois Governor Blagojevich Busted on Corruption Charges; Bailout for Detroit; Border Drug Wars". Lou Dobbs Tonight. 2008-12-09. Retrieved on 2008-12-14. 
  10. ^ "Tufts Alum Chosen to join the Obama cabinet". December 4, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-12-04. 
  11. ^ "Bill Richardson, Tufts baseball player, ca. 1969". December 4, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-12-04. 
  12. ^ "Richardson backs off baseball claim". Associated Press. 2005-11-25. Retrieved on 2008-01-01. 
  13. ^ Four decades later, Richardson acknowledges he wasn't drafted by pro baseball team] - Associated Press - November 24, 2005 (via
  14. ^ Mears, Bill (May 22, 2006). "Deal in Wen Ho Lee case may be imminent". CNN. Retrieved on 2008-11-07. 
  15. ^ Christopher McCaleb, Ian, "Richardson says FBI has determined drives did not leave Los Alamos", CNN, June 21, 2000
  16. ^ CNN staffs and wire reports, "U.S. land transfer to Utah tribe would be largest in 100 years", "CNN", January 14, 2000
  17. ^ Pickler, Nedra, "Richardson declares presidential campaign", The Denver Post, May 22, 2007
  18. ^ Fundación Consejo España-EEUU Bio
  19. ^ Worden, Nat, "Big Oil Ties Could Muck Up Richardson's Bid",, June 11, 2007
  20. ^ Associated Press, "Bill Richardson Sells Stock in Valero Energy Corp. Amid Questions", Fox News, June 1, 2007
  21. ^ Mears, Bill (September 16, 2002). "A Whole Lotta Shaking". Tufts University. Retrieved on 2008-11-07. 
  22. ^ Press Releases
  23. ^ Concord Monitor, "Richardson stands out as pro-gun Democrat", 2008
  24. ^ "Governor vetoes eminent domain legislation" Santa Fe New Mexican, March 8, 2006
  25. ^ U.S. Governor Brokers Truce For Darfur The New York Times, January 11, 2007.
  26. ^ "Council Members: Governor Bill Richardson" New Mexico State Investment Council. See also New Mexico gubernatorial election, 2006.
  27. ^ "Governor will support a ban on cockfighting" Santa Fe New Mexican, December 27, 2006
  28. ^ "Cockfighting outlawed" KRQE News 13, March 12, 2007
  29. ^ "Richardson says supporting medical marijuana 'is right thing to do'"
  30. ^ Constitutional and statutory provisions for number of consecutive terms of elected state officials, National Governors Association,, retrieved on 2008-04-27 
  31. ^ Cabinet choices touch off scramble in states, Associated Press,, retrieved on 2008-12-26 
  32. ^ a b Political Donor’s Contracts Under Inquiry in New Mexico, The New York Times,, retrieved on 2008-12-26 
  33. ^ Grand Jury Probes Richardson Donor’s New Mexico Financing Fee, Bloomberg News,, retrieved on 2008-12-26 
  34. ^ a b Bill Richardson tarnished by scandal, Politico,, retrieved on 2009-02-12 
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Richardson: 'I am very loyal to the Clintons' "
  37. ^ First a Tense Talk With Clinton, Then Richardson Backs Obama - New York Times
  38. ^ Bill Richardson (April 1, 2008), Loyalty to My Country, The WashingtonPost,, retrieved on 2008-04-27 
  39. ^ NYTimes story about vetting process. Accessed August 24, 2008.
  40. ^ CNN story about 20 possible veep nominees. Accessed August 21, 2008.
  41. ^ Bill Richardson: Obama's Secretary Of State?
  42. ^ Richardson mum on job interview
  43. ^
  44. ^ Richardson to withdraw as Commerce secretary. MSNBC, January 4, 2009. Accessed January 4, 2009

[edit] Further sources

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