AP sources: Obama admin talked jobs with Romanoff
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
AP Sources: Admin talked jobs with Romanoff
PHILIP ELLIOTT,Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration dangled the possibility of a government job for former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff last year in hopes he would forgo a challenge to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, officials said Wednesday, just days after the White House admitted orchestrating a job offer in the Pennsylvania Senate race.
These officials declined to specify the job that was floated or the name of the administration official who approached Romanoff, and said no formal offer was ever made. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not cleared to discuss private conversations.
“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.”
The new revelation of a possible political trade again called into question President Barack Obama’s repeated promises to run an open government that was above back room deals.
The Colorado episode follows a similar controversy in Pennsylvania. An embarrassed White House admitted last Friday that it turned to former President Bill Clinton last year to approach Rep. Joe Sestak about backing out of the primary in favor of an unpaid position on a federal advisory board.
Sestak declined the offer and defeated Sen. Arlen Specter late last month for the Democratic nomination after disclosing the job discussions and highlighting it as evidence of his antiestablishment political credentials. He said last week he rejected Clinton’s feeler in less than a minute.
In a two-page report on the Sestak case, the White House counsel said the administration did nothing illegal or unethical.
Republicans have strongly criticized the offer to Sestak and challenged Romanoff to answer questions about his own dealings with the White House.
“Romanoff would be well-served to explain all of the details surrounding his discussions with the White House, the positions they proposed and the individuals who contacted him immediately,” said Amber Marchand, a spokeswoman for the Republicans’ Senate campaign committee.
Unlike Sestak, Romanoff has ducked questions on the subject, and it was not clear how long his discussions with administration officials lasted. Also unlike Sestak, Romanoff was out of office and looking for his next act after being forced from his job because of term limits.
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.
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.
Romanoff still wasn’t settled on the Senate race. When Ritter announced in January that he wouldn’t seek a second term after all, Romanoff publicly talked about leaving the Senate race to seek the governor’s office, though he ended up staying in the Senate contest.
Bennet has outpaced Romanoff in fundraising and support from Washington, although party activists attending the state party assembly last month favored the challenger by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent. The primary is Aug. 10.
Bennet was appointed by Ritter to fill out the final two years of the term of Ken Salazar, who resigned to become interior secretary.
Romanoff’s campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to questions.
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Aspen and Pitkin County have the largest black bear population and as such, are hoping for a big portion of a Colorado Parks and Wildlife grant to help educate and enforcement rules around securing trash.