All Joe Sestak got from the White House was a crummy unpaid advisory offer. But it turns out Team Obama was prepared to do better for Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff, he says, and came up with three potential positions for him should he skip a primary challenge against Sen. Michael Bennet.
The three possibilites — which were not outright job offers, Romanoff insists — were Deputy Assistant Administrator for Latin America and Caribbean, USAID; Director, Office of Democracy and Governance, USAID; and Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
Romanoff said in a statement Wednesday night that he was not interested in the hypothetical spots, the hypothetical job descriptions of which are below, taken from an e-mail from White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina.
Here's Romanoff's explanation, coming after the AP broke word that the White House had reached out to the candidate:
"I have received a large number of press inquiries concerning the role the White House is reported to have played in my decision to run for the U.S. Senate. I have declined comment because I did not want - and do not want - to politicize this matter. A great deal of misinformation has filled the void in the meantime. That does not serve the public interest or any useful purpose.
"Here are the facts:
"In September 2009, shortly after the news media first reported my plans to run for the Senate, I received a call from Jim Messina, the President's deputy chief of staff. Mr. Messina informed me that the White House would support Sen. Bennet. I informed Mr. Messina that I had made my decision to run.
"Mr. Messina also suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race. He added that he could not guarantee my appointment to any of these positions. At no time was I promised a job, nor did I request Mr. Messina's assistance in obtaining one.
"Later that day, I received an email from Mr. Messina containing descriptions of three positions (email attached). I left him a voicemail informing him that I would not change course.
"I have not spoken with Mr. Messina, nor have I discussed this matter with anyone else in the White House, since then.
We're sure this will not end the issue, and we're also sure Republicans will argue that the below document characterizes actual job offers — which could be a problem under the law.
The White House disputed some of Romanoff's claims in a statement released early Thursday:
"Andrew Romanoff applied for a position at USAID during the Presidential transition. He filed this application through the Transition on-line process. After the new administration took office, he followed up by phone with White House personnel. Jim Messina called and emailed Romanoff last September to see if he was still interested in a position at USAID, or if, as had been reported, he was running for the US Senate. Months earlier, the President had endorsed Senator Michael Bennet for the Colorado seat, and Messina wanted to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters. But Romanoff said that he was committed to the Senate race and no longer interested in working for the Administration, and that ended the discussion. As Mr. Romanoff has stated, there was no offer of a job."
Still, it's unclear anyone could prove the discussion was not entirely hypothetical, and if Messina did not make any guarantees, does that constitute an offer?
Rep. Darrell Issa was the first out on the GOP side asking fresh questions, and he's calling for an investigation, either by the FBI or a special investigator.
"Just how deep does the Obama White House's effort to invoke Chicago-style politics for the purpose of manipulating elections really go?" Issa said. "Clearly, Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff aren't isolated incidents and are indicative of a culture that embraces the politics-as-usual mentality that the American people are sick and tired of."
By Michael Mcauliff
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
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