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Obama’s commerce secy backs out

US Prez-elect Barack Obama faced a setback as his choice of commerce secretary, Bill Richardson, withdrew his nomination due to a federal grand jury investigation.

world Updated: Jan 05, 2009 23:55 IST

Amid the euphoria around his upcoming inauguration, US President-elect Barack Obama faced a setback as his choice of commerce secretary, Bill Richardson, withdrew his nomination due to a federal grand jury investigation.

Withdrawal of New Mexico Governor Richardson’s nomination came amid reports that a federal grand jury has been looking into whether a California company won a state contract after contributing to Richardson’s political causes.

Coming hours before Obama landed in Washington to take up temporary residence ahead of his January 20 inauguration at a hotel across the street from White House, the news added to his political woes over the controversial nomination of a successor to his senate seat.

Federal prosecutors had arrested Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a fellow Democrat, December 9 alleging that he was planning to sell the seat to the highest bidder.

But a defiant Blagojevich, who has the sole authority to fill the vacancy, has brazenly named Roland Burris, a black former state attorney general, a move that members of the Senate Democratic majority have vowed to resist by using a senate procedure.