Andrew Romanoff, the former speaker of the Colorado house of representatives, issued a statement Wednesday evening claiming that the White House raised the possibility that he might be offered an administration job if he opted to not challenge incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
Romanoff also released what he said was an e-mail from White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina outlining three possible jobs -- deputy assistant administrator for Latin America and Caribbean for the U.S. Agency for International Development; director of the Office of Democracy and Governance at USAID; and director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency – he could have if he didn’t run.
Romanoff did not accept any of the offers, and currently is challenging Bennet, who has the endorsement of President Obama.
The White House did not comment. The statement comes as the White House attempts to distance itself from the controversy stemming from attempts – also unsuccessful – to convince Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., to not challenge Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., in the Pennsylvania primary. Sestak ultimately defeated Specter.
Last week, the White House released an internal report from White House counsel Bob Bauer stating that nothing inappropriate was offered to Sestak -- just a non-paying job on an advisory board, offered by former President Clinton at the request of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Republicans are demanding more information and alleging malfeasance.
Tonight, Romanoff said that Messina called him on Sept. 11, 2009 to tell him that the White House would support Bennet, appointed to the position to replace former senator and current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
“I informed Mr. Messina that I had made my decision to run,” Romanoff said in a statement. “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 same day, Messina sent Romanoff an e-mail with descriptions of three possible jobs, the candidate said. Romanoff said he left Messina a voice mail “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.”
The Denver Post’s Michael Riley reported last September that Messina “suggested a place for Romanoff might be found in the administration and offered specific suggestions, according to several sources who described the communication to The Denver Post. Romanoff turned down the overture, which included mention of a job at USAID, the foreign aid agency, sources said.”
Since the Sestak story gained media traction last week, Romanoff has found himself under increased pressure to explain what, exactly, he was offered. “But Romanoff won't answer the question,” Denver Post columnist Mike Littwin wrote on Sunday. “And it's worse than that. According to Romanoff spokesman Roy Teicher, not only does Romanoff refuse to answer the question, he won't even say why he refuses to answer the question.”
Romanoff said he had refused to comment about the matter "because I did not want – and do not want – to politicize this matter." But because a "great deal of misinformation has filled the void in the meantime" that "does not serve the public interest or any useful purpose," he was issuing the statement.
article also has a list & description of jobs offered.
Gibbs's statement: "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," Gibbs said. "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. ... Messina wanted to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters."