William Blaine "Bill" Richardson III (born November 15, 1947) is the current Governor of New Mexico and was a candidate for the 2008 Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. He was involved in several diplomatic efforts as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and afterwards. He emphasized foreign policy issues during his Presidential run. He has previously served as a U.S. Representative, Ambassador to the United Nations, and as the U.S. Secretary of Energy. He was chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention as well as Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association in 2005 and 2006, overseeing the Democrats' re-capturing of a majority of the country's governorships. Richardson has been recognized for negotiating the release of hostages, American servicemen, and political prisoners in North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba.
Richardson's original biographies stated that he had been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers 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.
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:
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.
Richardson spent a little more than 14 years in Congress. As a congressman, he kept his interest in foreign relations. He visited Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, India, North Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Sudan to represent U.S. interests.
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.
In 1996, he 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. He became a member of the Democratic leadership, where he worked closely with Bill Clinton on several issues.
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 was also criticized by the Senate for his handling of the espionage inquiry 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.
Richardson 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.
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. 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."
Richardson was elected governor of New Mexico in November 2002, having defeated the Republican candidate, John Sanchez, 56–39 percent. 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 Railrunner) 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.
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 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 discussed frequently on CNN, Richardson supported the New Mexico policy of giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
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 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 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. Salopek had been charged by the Sudanese with espionage on August 26, 2006, while on a National Geographic assignment.
Richardson won his second term as Governor of New Mexico on November 7, 2006, 68–32 percent 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 would ban cockfighting in New Mexico. Puerto Rico is now the only part of the United States where cockfighting is legal.
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.
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.
Richardson's current term in office ends in 2011 and he is term-limited from a third term as governor.
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. 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.
Remarks on the nominations of Bill Richardson to be Secretary of Energy and Richard C. Holbrooke to be United Nations Ambassador and an exchange with reporters
Jun 22, 1998; June 18,1998 The President. Senator Bingaman and Congressman Becerra, ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all here today as I...