One of President Barack Obama's top advisers suggested to a Colorado Democrat that he forgo a primary challenge to Sen. Michael Bennet and instead apply for one of three international development jobs.Doesn't Romanoff know that he's supposed to issue this kind of news late on a Friday before a three-day weekend?
The disclosure came just days after the White House admitted orchestrating a job offer in the Pennsylvania Senate race with the similar goal of avoiding a messy or divisive Democratic primary.
The back-room deals - former President Bill Clinton led the Pennsylvania effort and White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina worked with former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff - called into question Obama's repeated promises to run an open government.
Romanoff said in a statement Wednesday night that he was contacted by Messina last fall and told that the White House would support Bennet in the primary. When he said he would seek the nomination anyway, Messina "suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race," Romanoff said. "He added that he could not guarantee my appointment to any of these positions."
Romanoff added: "At no time was I promised a job, nor did I request Mr. Messina's assistance in obtaining one."
Earlier Wednesday, a White House official insisted nothing inappropriate or illegal took place but didn't provide the details Romanoff offered in his statement and a copy of an e-mail he had received from Messina.
"Mr. Romanoff was recommended to the White House from Democrats in Colorado for a position in the administration," White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said. "There were some initial conversations with him, but no job was ever offered."
Yet even the appearance of trading taxpayer-funded jobs to ease an ally's political path left questions for an administration that was the most transparent in history.
Though it sounds like Romanoff was having a particularly hard time getting a job handed to him in Colorado.
Romanoff had sought appointment to the Senate seat that eventually went to Bennet, publicly griped he had been passed over and then discussed possible appointment possibilities inside the administration, one of the officials said.The guy should have been in Illinois and hooking up with Blagojevich. If no one particularly liked him in Colorado, why were they so scared about having him run in a primary against Bennet? Don't the Democrats trust their primary voters to pick a good candidate?
After being passed over for the Senate appointment, the out-of-power Romanoff made little secret of shopping for a political job. Romanoff also applied to be Colorado secretary of state, a job that came open when Republican Mike Coffman was elected to Congress. Gov. Bill Ritter again appointed a replacement, and again passed over Romanoff.
Next, according to several Colorado Democrats speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal negotiations, Romanoff also approached Ritter about being Ritter's running mate for Ritter's re-election bid. It was only after that attempt failed, the Colorado Democrats said, that Romanoff joined the Senate contest.
I'm not particularly upset about the thought that, horrors!, the White House is playing normal politics and skirting the edge of federal law in offering jobs if, wink, wink, some guy will stay out of a primary. But I do find it delicious that Barack Obama has been exposed, yet again, as just the kind of backroom dealer that he pretended to be above in his messianic campaign for president. And once you strip away that aura of being a transformative politician, what is left of his appeal other than his leftist politics?