|30th Governor of New Mexico|
January 1, 2003 – January 1, 2011
|Preceded by||Gary Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Susana Martinez|
|9th United States Secretary of Energy|
August 18, 1998 – January 20, 2001
|Preceded by||Federico Peña|
|Succeeded by||Spencer Abraham|
|21st United States Ambassador to the United Nations|
February 18, 1997 – August 18, 1998
|Preceded by||Madeleine Albright|
|Succeeded by||Richard Holbrooke|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's 3rd district
January 3, 1983 – February 13, 1997
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Succeeded by||Bill Redmond|
|Born||William Blaine Richardson III
November 15, 1947
Pasadena, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Tufts University|
William Blaine "Bill" Richardson III (born November 15, 1947) is an American politician who was 30th Governor of New Mexico, from 2003 to 2011. He was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration and has also served as a U.S. Congressman, chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. In December 2008, he was nominated for the cabinet-level position of Secretary of Commerce in the first Obama administration but withdrew a month later as he was investigated for possibly improper business dealings in New Mexico. Although the investigation was later dropped, it was seen to have damaged Richardson's career, as his second and final term as New Mexico governor concluded. Richardson occasionally troubleshoots diplomatic issues with North Korea, which has long been an interest of his.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Early political career
- 3 U.S. Representative
- 4 Ambassador to the United Nations
- 5 U.S. Secretary of Energy
- 6 Educational and corporate positions
- 7 Governor of New Mexico
- 8 2008 presidential campaign
- 9 Secretary of Commerce nomination
- 10 Allegations of corruption
- 11 Post-gubernatorial career
- 12 Publications
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 Further sources
- 16 External links
Early life and education
Bill Richardson was born in Pasadena, California. His father, William Blaine Richardson, Jr. (1891-1972), who was half Anglo-American and half Mexican, was an American Citibank executive who grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and lived and worked in Mexico City. His mother, María Luisa López-Collada Márquez (1914-2011), was the Mexican-born daughter of a Spanish father from Villaviciosa, Asturias and a Mexican mother, and had been his father's secretary. Richardson's father was born on a ship heading towards Nicaragua. Just before Bill 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." Richardson, a U.S. citizen by birthright, spent his childhood in Mexico City and was raised Roman Catholic. When Richardson was 13, his parents sent him to Massachusetts to attend a preparatory school, Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, where he played baseball as a pitcher. He entered Tufts University in 1966 where he continued to play baseball.
Richardson's original biographies stated he had been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics and the Chicago Cubs to play professional baseball, but a 2005 Albuquerque Journal investigation discovered he never was on any official draft. Richardson acknowledged the error, which he claimed was unintentional, saying he had been scouted by several teams and told that he "would or could" be drafted, but was mistaken in saying that he actually had been drafted.
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." 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.||”|
He earned a Bachelor's degree at Tufts University in 1970, majoring in French and political science, and was a member and president of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He earned a master's degree in international affairs from Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1971. He had met his future wife, Barbara Flavin, in high school.
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.
In 1978, Richardson moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and ran for the House of Representatives in 1980 as a Democrat, losing narrowly to longtime 1st District representative 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 14 years in Congress, representing the country's most diverse district and holding 2,000 town meetings.
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). Richardson sponsored a number of bills, including the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments, the Indian Dams Safety Act, the Tribal Self-Governance Act, and the Jicarilla Apache Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act.
He became a member of the Democratic leadership as a deputy majority whip, where he became friends with Bill Clinton after they worked closely on several issues, including when he served as the ranking House Democrat in favor of NAFTA's passage in 1993, 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 Milošević. In 1996 he played a major role in securing the release of American Evan Hunziker from North Korean custody and for securing a pardon for Eliadah McCord, an American convicted and imprisoned in Bangladesh. Due to these missions, Richardson was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.
Ambassador to the United Nations
As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations between 1997 and 1998, Richardson flew to Afghanistan and met with the Taliban and with Abdul Rachid Dostum, an Uzbek warlord, but the ceasefire he believed he had negotiated with the help of Bruce Riedel of the National Security Council failed to hold.
U.S. 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. 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 was later cleared of espionage charges and won a settlement against the federal government for the accusation. Richardson was also criticized by the Senate for his handling of the espionage inquiry, which involved missing computer 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. 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.
Richardson tightened security following the scandal, and became the first Energy Secretary to implement a plan to dispose of nuclear waste. 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. Richardson also directed the overhaul of the Department's consultation policy with Native American tribes and established the Tribal Energy Program.
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. 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. In 2011, Richardson was named a senior fellow at the Baker Institute of Rice University.
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. From February 2001 to June 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. 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.
Governor of New Mexico
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. He succeeded a two-term Republican governor, Gary Johnson. He took office in January 2003 as the only Hispanic Governor in the United States. 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 helped make New Mexico the first state in the nation to provide $400,000 in life insurance coverage for New Mexico National Guard members 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 the use of highway fund to construct a brand new commuter rail line (the Rail Runner) that runs between Belen, Albuquerque, and Bernalillo. He supported a variety of LGBT rights in his career as governor; he added sexual orientation and gender identity to New Mexico's list of civil rights categories. He however was opposed to same sex marriage and faced criticism for his use of an anti-gay slur on the Don Imus Show. During the summer of 2003, he met with a delegation from North Korea at their request to discuss concerns over that country's nuclear weapons. 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."
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.
As Richardson discussed frequently during his 2008 run for President, he supported a controversial New Mexico law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses for reasons of public safety. He said that because of the program, traffic fatalities had gone down, and the percentage of uninsured drivers decreased from 33% to 11%.
He was named Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association in 2004 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 collaborate 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. 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. The Sudanese had charged Salopek 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.
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.
In December 2006, Richardson announced that he would support a ban on cockfighting in New Mexico. On March 12, 2007, Richardson signed into law a bill that banned cockfighting in New Mexico. Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are now the only parts of the United States where cockfighting is legal.
During New Mexico's 2007 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."
During 2008 and 2009, Richardson faced "possible legal issues" while a federal grand jury investigated pay-to-play allegations in the awarding of a lucrative state contract to a company that gave campaign contributions to Richardson's political action committee, Moving America Forward. The company in question, CDR, was alleged to have funneled more than $100,000 in donations to Richardson's PAC in exchange for state construction projects. Richardson said when he withdraw his Commerce Secretary nomination that he was innocent; his popularity then slipped below 50% in his home state. In August 2009, federal prosecutors dropped the pending investigation against the governor, and there was speculation in the media about Richardson's career after his second term as New Mexico governor concluded.
On March 18, 2009, Governor Richardson's office confirmed that he had signed a bill repealing the death penalty, making New Mexico the second U.S. state (after New Jersey) to repeal the death penalty by legislative means since the 1960s. Richardson was subsequently honored with the 2009 Human Rights Award by Death Penalty Focus.
In its April 2010 report, ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Richardson one of the 11 worst governors in the United States because of various ethics issues throughout Richardson's term as governor. The group accused Richardson of allowing political allies to benefit from firms connected to state investments, rewarding close associates with state positions or benefits (including providing a longtime friend and political supporter with a costly state contract), and allowing pay-to-play activity in his administration. They also opined that he fell short on efforts to make state government more transparent.
In December 2010, while still serving as governor, Richardson returned to North Korea in an unofficial capacity at the invitation of the North's chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan. Upon arriving in Pyongyang on December 16, Richardson told reporters that his "objective is to see if we can reduce the tension on the Korean peninsula, that is my objective. I am going to have a whole series of talks with North Korean officials here and I look forward to my discussions", he said. On December 19, Richardson said his talks with North Korean officials made "some progress" in trying to resolve what he calls a "very tense" situation. Speaking from Pyongyang, Richardson told U.S. television network CNN that a North Korean general he met was receptive to his proposal for setting up a hotline between North and South Korean forces, and also was open to his idea for a military commission to monitor disputes in and around the Yellow Sea.
After his return from North Korea, Richardson dealt with the issue of a pardon for William H. Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, for killing Sheriff William J. Brady of Lincoln County, New Mexico some 130 years ago. Following up on the promise of a pardon at the time by then-territorial governor Lew Wallace, Richardson said he could not pardon Bonney posthumously because he did not want to second-guess his predecessor's decision. "It was a very close call", Richardson said. "The romanticism appealed to me to issue a pardon, but the facts and the evidence did not support it."
2008 presidential campaign
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 and friendship with the Clinton family, Richardson endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination on March 21, 2008, instead of Hillary Clinton. Commentator and Clinton ally James Carville famously compared Richardson to Judas Iscariot for the move. Richardson responded in a Washington Post article, feeling "compelled to defend [himself] against character assassination and baseless allegations."
Richardson was a rumored Vice Presidential candidate for Senator and Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama and was fully vetted by the Obama campaign, before Obama chose Joe Biden on August 23, 2008.
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. Richardson did not publicly comment on the speculation.
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.
On January 4, 2009, Richardson withdrew his name as Commerce Secretary nominee because of the federal grand jury investigation into pay-to-play allegations. The New York Times had reported in late December that the grand jury investigation issue would be raised at Richardson's confirmation hearings. Later, in August 2009, Justice Department officials decided not to seek indictments.
Allegations of corruption
During the 2012 trial United States of America v. Carollo, Goldberg and Grimm, the former CDR employee Doug Goldberg testified that he was involved in giving Bill Richardson campaign contributions amounting to $100,000 in exchange for his company CDR being hired to handle a $400 million swap deal for the New Mexico state government. During his testimony, Doug Goldberg stated that he had been given an envelope containing a check for $25,000 payable to Moving America Forward, Bill Richardson's political action committee, by his boss Stewart Wolmark and told to deliver it to Bill Richardson at a fund raiser. When Goldberg handed the envelope to Richardson, he allegedly told Goldberg to "Tell the big guy [Stewart Wolmark] I'm going to hire you guys". Goldberg went on to testify that CDR was hired but that he later learned that another firm was hired by Richardson to perform the actual work required and that Steward Wolmark had given Richardson a further $75,000 in contributions.
In 2011, Richardson joined the boards of APCO Worldwide company Global Political Strategies as chairman, the World Resources Institute, the National Council for Science and the Environment, the National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona, and Abengoa (international advisory board). He was also appointed as a special envoy for the Organization of American States.
In 2012, Richardson joined the advisory board of Grow Energy, a startup company founded by young entrepreneurs Kevin Segal and John Walsh from Redondo Beach, California, which is utilizing algae as a clean and environmentally-beneficial electricity resource. That same year, Richardson joined the board of Refugees International.
Richardson has a long interest in North Korea, and has been involved in ad-hoc negotiations with the leadership there since the early 1990s, and visited a number of times, not always with official support, such as in January 2013, when he led a delegation of business leaders, including Google chairman Eric Schmidt, shortly after the state had launched an orbital rocket. Richardson called the trip a "private, humanitarian" mission by U.S. citizens and told the Associated Press he would speak to North Korean officials about the detention of Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen accused of committing "hostile" acts against the state, and seek to visit the American. In March 2016, at the request of Ohio governor John Kasich, Richardson attempted to negotiate for the release of Cincinnati college student Otto Warmbier, who had been detained on a visit to North Korea.
In December 2012, Richardson became Chairman of the Board of Directors of Car Charging Group, the largest independent owner and operator of public electric vehicle charging stations in the United States. In 2013 Richardson joined the Board of Advisors for the Fuel Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit campaign that advocates for the end of the oil monopoly.
Richardson has authored three books:
- Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life, an autobiography, published March 2007 – Ghost Writer, Mike Ruby, former executive editor and editor for the U.S. News & World Report.
- Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution, released October 2007
- How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator, published October 15, 2013 by Rodale Books, written with Kevin Bleyer.
- Universal Transparency: A Goal for the U.S. at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, published January 2011, Arms Control Today -Bill Richardson with Gay Dillingham, Charles Streeper, and Arjun Makhijani
- Sweeping Up Dirty Bombs, published Fall 2011, Federation of American Scientists -Bill Richardson, Charles Streeper, and Margarita Sevcik
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- Bill Richardson (April 1, 2008). "Loyalty to My Country". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-04-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- NYTimes story about vetting process. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
- CNN story about 20 possible veep nominees. Retrieved August 21, 2008.
- "Bill Richardson: Obama's Secretary Of State?". Huffington Post. November 5, 2008. Retrieved 2012-01-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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- Richardson to withdraw as Commerce secretary. MSNBC, January 4, 2009. Retrieved January 4, 2009
- Herzenberg, Michael (August 26, 2009). "No 'pay-to-play' indictment for Gov". News 13. Albuquerque, New Mexico: LIN TV Corporation. KRQE. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
The U.S. Department of Justice has decided not to seek criminal indictments against Gov. Bill Richardson or former high-ranking members of his administration<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Matt Taibbi (June 21, 2012). "The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia". Rolling Stone.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- APCO Worldwide (2011). Former New Mexico Governor, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson joins APCO. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- World Resources Institute (2011). Former Governor Bill Richardson Joins WRI's Board of Directors. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- NCSE (2011). Former Governor Bill Richardson Elected to NCSE Board of Directors. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- National Institute for Civil Discourse (2011). Governor Bill Richardson. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- Abengoa (2011). Bill Richardson, former Governor of New Mexico, joins Abengoa's International Advisory Board. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- Huffington Post (2011). Richardson named envoy for Org. of American States. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- Grow Energy, Inc. . Retrieved December 20, 2012.
- US cool on Google's Eric Schmidt visiting North Korea, BBC News, 4 January 2013
- "Google's Eric Schmidt, NM Gov. Bill Richardson visit North Korea". Associated Press via Newsday. January 8, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Governor Bill Richardson Joins Fuel Freedom Foundation's Board of Advisors". The Wall Street Journal. 22 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Brooke, James (December 14, 1996). "Traveling Troubleshooter Is Ready to Settle Down, at the U.N.: THE SECOND TERM: The New Lineup William Blaine Richardson". The New York Times, pp. 11.
- Rankin, Adam (July 10, 2005). "Richardson Named As Likely Source of Wen Ho Lee Leak". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
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