Not only does he name names — as the Denver Post originally reported, it was indeed deputy chief of staff Jim Messina who contacted him about dropping out — but he’s actually released Messina’s e-mail from last year describing the jobs they had in mind for him. The one key omission? Any acknowledgment by Romanoff that he himself lied to the Post when initially asked whether anyone had offered him a position.
U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff acknowledged tonight that he discussed three possible jobs with the deputy chief of staff of the Obama administration — all contingent upon a decision by Romanoff not to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.
Romanoff said none of the jobs was formally offered, but said the only reason they were discussed with Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina was if Romanoff stayed out of the Senate race.
“Mr. Messina also suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race,” Romanoff wrote in a statement. “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.”
Here’s the full text of Romanoff’s statement, together with the description of the available jobs. Is Messina guilty of a crime for having made this kinda sorta offer, even without any formal “promise”? Let’s see:
Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
I think we can get this one to the jury! Seriously, though, I don’t want Messina charged, partly because he was obviously acting at Rahm Emanuel’s behest (no deputy COS would be authorized to bribe a senate candidate on his own initiative, I assume) and partly because I’m sure this really is D.C. business as usual for both parties. The point of bringing up the statute again and again is simply to remind people that it’s the same sort of unrealistic “good government” aspiration that Captain Hopenchange used to such cynical effect during the campaign and which he’s now happily willing to violate in the most flagrant ways. Remember when he promised to put Congress’s health-care deliberations on C-SPAN? That was pure garbage aimed at idealistic young voters, which he duly abandoned as soon as he was elected save for that “health-care summit” dog-and-pony show earlier this year. Frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t include this angle in his campaign platform: “We won’t deny primary voters a choice with dirty deals!” sounds like precisely the sort of pap he was pushing at his nomination speech in front of the Temple of Zeus or whatever. Although, to be completely fair, I wonder in hindsight how many lefties really bought it or even cared whether he’d keep his “Change” promises or not. The point was to win an election and that mission was accomplished. Who cares if he’s turned out to be every inch the Chicago politician that he is?
As for the politics of Romanoff putting out this statement, I agree with Ben Smith: This sure looks like a middle finger towards the White House, aimed at casting his primary opponent, Michael Bennet, as the puppet of a very cynical political machine. No wonder Joe Sestak’s suddenly ducking joint appearances with The One.