WASHINGTON – 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.
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.”