Andrew Romanoff has responded to allegations that Democratic leaders offered him a White House post if he would drop out of the U.S. Senate race, leaving the sitting senator, Michael Bennet, unchallenged. The revelation from him Wednesday night adds to the controversy over whether Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak was offered a spot on a presidential advisory board to avoid a Democratic primary and clear the way for a more popular candidate.
For Romanoff, it answers a lingering question about his campaign. In a statement posted online by The Washington Post, Romanoff says that after he announced his candidacy last year, he received a call from Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff, who said the White House was supporting Bennet. “Mr. Messina also suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race,” Romanoff writes. “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 e-mail from Mr. Messina containing descriptions of three positions.” … “I left him a voicemail informing him that I would not change course,” and would continue to run for Senate.
The White House has responded with its own statement Thursday morning: “Andrew Romanoff applied for a position at USAID during the presidential transition. He filed this application through the transition online process. After the new administration took office, he followed up by phone with White House personnel. Jim Messina called and e-mailed 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 U.S. Senate” (via WaPo).
But Romanoff’s explanation has fueled criticisms of “back-room deals” that “called into question Obama’s repeated promises to run an open government,” according to The Associated Press. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to ask questions, arguing that the Obama administration might possibly have acted illegally by manipulating the political process, according to CBS News.