The White House has completed another neat trick this morning. Via Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the administration has released a statement confirming that Obama Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina dangled three different paying administration jobs in front of Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff “to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters.” Only that wasn’t a quid pro quo, you see, because no job was explicitly offered.
Here’s the full White House release:
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.
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. Months earlier, the President had endorsed Senator Michael Bennet for the Colorado seat, and Messina wanted to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters.
But Romanoff said that he was committed to the Senate race and no longer interested in working for the Administration, and that ended the discussion. As Mr. Romanoff has stated, there was no offer of a job.
The linkage here seems clear. Messina called to gauge his interest in a potential political appointment in exchange for Romanoff dropping out of the primary. But then again, I’m no lawyer.