Perhaps this is just the consequence of having a hardball Congressional elbow-thrower like Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff, but as Jim Geraghty writes, it comes close to bribery using federal funds. When Democrat Andrew Romanoff made noises about mounting a primary challenge to Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), the White House contacted Romanoff and made an interesting — and arguably corrupt — counteroffer:
Not long after news leaked last month that Andrew Romanoff was determined to make a Democratic primary run against Sen. Michael Bennet, Romanoff received an unexpected communication from one of the most powerful men in Washington.
Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff and a storied fixer in the White House political shop, suggested a place for Romanoff might be found in the administration and offered specific suggestions, according to several sources who described the communication to The Denver Post.
Romanoff turned down the overture, which included mention of a job at USAID, the foreign aid agency, sources said.
Was this was a misunderstanding? Michael Riley got some pushback from the White House, but multiple sources tell him that the quid pro quo was fairly explicit:
The White House said that no job was ever offered to Romanoff and that it would be wrong to suggest administration officials tried to buy him out of the contest.
“Mr. Romanoff was never offered a position within the administration,” said White House spokesman Adam Abrams.
Yet several top Colorado Democrats described Messina’s outreach to Romanoff to The Post, including the discussion of specific jobs in the administration. They asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
As one state legislator tells Riley, the White House has every right to take a position on primary races. What they do not have the right to do is to use federal dollars to buy challengers out of primary races. Offering positions paid by taxpayer money to potential challengers to Democratic incumbents is political corruption of the worst kind. It involves interfering with the choices made by Coloradans, conversion of public funds for partisan purposes, and the appointment of officials for cheap politics rather than qualifications.
In fact, I seem to recall a presidential candidate who campaigned on changing that kind of Beltway politics. One candidate based his run on Hope and Change, on full transparency, on judgment and clean government. He promised a New Direction, not Chicago-on-the-Potomac. Who was that masked man, anyway?