This past week, the headlines reported that the White House tried to limit the Colorado Primary via a list of possible administration positions to Senate Primary candidate Andrew Romanoff. This type of insider politics does not rise to the level of a violation of the law, but it does show a continued pattern of questionable use of the White House's and President's reputation to influence and interfere in Senate primaries - the other being a similar offer to Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania.
Now, information has surfaced about the timeline of that interference that raises some interesting questions about whether there was any coordination between Senator Bennet and the White House.
These new facts seem to indicate that Bennet was also part of the 'Pay to Play' mentality that is part of the Rahm Emanuel or Jim Messina playbook. We need to make sure these kind of deals are stopped so that they don't harm Obama's reputation or the Democratic party. We also need to find out what, if any, was Senator Bennet's involvement.
Consider these facts:
We start with last August.
August 29th, 2009 - Denver Post reports a rumor that Andrew Romanoff may challenge Michael Bennet.
August 30th, 2009 - The Post follows this up with more information seeming to confirm Romanoff's intention to enter the Primary race.
September 1, 2009 - After less than supportive statements on the Public Option, Bennet coincidentally releases a video loudly and repeatedly proclaiming his support for the Public Option, one day after the primary is confirmed.
September 4th, 2009 - from this radio show report from local political talk show host, Mario Solis-Marich, Bennet and Romanoff sit down at lunch - presumably to discuss Romanoff's intentions to enter the race.
September 5th,2009 - Andrew Romanoff files FEC paperwork as a candidate.
September 11th, 2009 - 7 days after Bennet and Romanoff have that lunch, Jim Messina calls Romanoff to discuss his intentions - to which Romanoff states he is running for Senate. An email from Messina follows that mentions there would be a 'possibility' for one of three jobs - (if he wasn't too busy with anything else)
June 3rd, 2010 - as news breaks of this information, following the Joe Sestak debacle , the Bennet campaign states it had a conversation with the White House during this crucial period in September 2009.
Statement of importance:
A spokesman for Bennet sidestepped a question about whether the senator was aware of White House efforts to maneuver Romanoff out of the race by discussing possible jobs.
"It seems common knowledge that Speaker Romanoff had applied for a few jobs in the administration and several in Colorado," Bennet spokesman Trevor Kincaid said. "Conversations Michael had with the White House focused on the president's continued support for his campaign, regardless of what career path Speaker Romanoff chose to follow.
June 4th, 2010 - as the (non?) scandal grows, the Bennet campaign sends out another message as reported in the Denver Post:
"Bennet, whom the White House is supporting in the primary, was aware at the time that someone in the Obama administration planned to contact Romanoff "to confirm reports that he was interested in running for the Senate or determine if he was still interested in serving in the administration," according to a statement from Bennet's campaign. But Bennet had no role in those conversations with Romanoff, his campaign said."
Here is where it gets tricky. Michael Bennet, who had no doubt seen the reports of Andrew Romanoff's plan to enter the Primary on Aug. 30, 2009 and then spoke over lunch with Andrew Romanoff on Sept. 4, 2009, is now admitting that his campaign was in communication with the White House during this time.
Furthermore the Bennet campaign states a day later it knew the White House "planned" to contact Romanoff about his possible campaign and the possibility of his interest in "serving in the administration."
Is it possible that Bennet made no mention of getting Romanoff out of the primary through help from the White House? It is possible. But is it likely?
It might seem like a stretch for one to believe that presupposition, but let's look how Senator Bennet got into office and remember, and consider for a second that this could be much bigger than just one Senate seat.
Senator Bennet was, up until a few years ago, an extremely well connected corporate 'raider' for Multi Billionaire Republican Philip Anschutz. Since that time, he was appointed Superintendent of Denver Public Schools (where he made some very questionable investment decisions in derivatives) then was somehow picked to become a U.S. Senator. I say somehow because he had never run for any office in Colorado and was unknown to most Democrats in Colorado.
To top that off, he was immediately placed on the Powerful Banking Committee - just as that committee was taking up Wall St. Reforms - many of which he opposed - like Cramdown, Dodd's reform bill, and finally regulating risky derivative investments (shocker) and breaking up the too-big-too-fail Banks.
Consider that ascent from unelected to that kind of power and ask yourself how hard would it be to have some strings pulled from D.C. to make a Senate seat safe.
These patterns of pay-to-play politics (which are Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina's style) - are likely to grow in scope and news coverage during the upcoming Blagojevich trial.
It is good to know that the President was, apparently, 'out of the loop' about the decision to make these entreaties to Mr. Romanoff, however, the President would be well served by not allowing Rahm Emanuel to engineer these back room negotiations on his administration's behalf.
(bring back Howard Dean)
As for Mr. Bennet, this is about voting for more democrats, and definitely, for better democrats. The voters will get to decide whether this is their preferred method of representation in the August 8th primary.
If you are tired of candidates bankrolled by special interests and play-to-pay politics, consider supporting the grassroots and people powered candidate in this primary - Andrew Romanoff.
You can contribute here