Andrew Romanoff details contacts with White House over potential jobs
Updated, 9:39 pm
Former Colorado state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff released a detailed statement tonight detailing his contacts with the White House last fall in which a top aide to President Barack Obama sought to convince him to leave the state's Senate race.
Romanoff said that he received a call in September 2009 from White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina making clear that the White House would be supporting appointed Sen. Michael Bennet in the Colorado Senate Democratic primary.
"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."
(Romanoff'sstatement is available after the jump.)
The three jobs floated to him by Messina via email, according to Romanoff, were: Deputy Assistant Administrator for Latin America and Caribbean for USAID, Director of Office of Democracy and Governance at USAID and director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
Romanoff said he followed up with a phone message in which he declined the potential job offers.
The Romanoff statement comes less than two weeks after questions about what job (if any) was offered to Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak in hopes of driving him from the race against Sen. Arlen Specter.
The White House ultimately released a report from Counsel Bob Bauer in which it was revealed that former President Bill Clinton had approached Sestak about leaving the race but that no formal contact between the Obama Administration and the candidate had ever occurred.
The simple fact that the White House -- via Messina -- made clear that they would be supporting Bennet in the August Democratic primary is not, in and of itself, particularly shocking. White Houses -- no matter which party is in control -- play favorites in primaries and do their level best to clear fields for the candidate they believe is best positioned to hold the seat for their side in a general election.
At issue is whether the White House's statement on the matter accurately portrayed the entirety of the situation.
In a September 27, 2009 Denver Post piece a White House spokesman is quoted saying that "Mr. Romanoff was never offered a position within the administration."
Romanoff, in his own statement tonight, reiterates that point; "At no time was I promised a job, nor did I request Mr. Messina's assistance in obtaining one," he said.
California Rep. Darrell Issa (R), who has led the charge against the White House on the Sestak and Romanoff matters, issued a sweeping condemnation of the Administration in the wake of the Romanoff statement asking "how deep does the Obama White House's effort to invoke Chicago-style politics for the purpose of manipulating elections really go?,".
Republicans will almost certainly attempt to make an issue of the White House's carefully worded statement about its conversations with Romanoff--questioning whether dangling three specific positions is tantamount to a job offer.
Andrew Romanoff statement
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.
By Chris Cillizza | June 2, 2010; 9:01 PM ET