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'This is Not the Bill Richardson I Knew'

6:25 PM, Jan 4, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Bill Richardson, one adult ticket, under the bus:

Sources tell ABC News that officials on the Obama Transition Team feel that before he was formally offered the job of commerce secretary, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was not forthcoming with them about the federal investigation that is looking into whether the governor steered a state contract towards a major financial contributor.

Once the investigation became more widely known through national media reports last month, sources tell ABC News, the Obama Transition Team realized the FBI would not be able to give Richardson a clean political bill of health before the new administration is ready to send his nomination up to the Senate for confirmation.

The Richardson camp says the governor was forthcoming, with sources close to the governor noting that there had been reports about the controversy in local media such as the Albuquerque Journal as far back as August 2008. The governor discussed the investigation with the Obama team, they say, and believes that he and his administration have done nothing wrong.

The Albuquerque Journal's first story on the investigation appeared August 29, 2008, according to Nexis Lexis, but no follow-up stories between that first one and Richardson's December nomination. It was after his nomination that national media caught onto the story and began reporting it repeatedly, but it seems it would have taken a minimal amount of vetting of Richardson's coverage in local media by the Obama team to establish what the investigation was all about.

By the way, doesn't this make the second Commerce Secretary miscue "for a presidential transition that has had an exceedingly smooth public face?"