DALLAS - CDR Financial Products stepped up its defense of its role in a high-profile New Mexico bond program yesterday after Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew from consideration as secretary of commerce for Barack Obama, citing a grand jury investigation of the deal.

Calling Richardson "an exceptionally able and dedicated public official, who was highly deserving of the opportunity to hold a cabinet-level position," CDR founder and president David Rubin wrote in a statement that his company "has never practiced pay-for-play on any playing field where we do business."

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