We now know that Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff called Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in September, 2009, to offer him one of three enumerated jobs if only he would drop out of the Democratic Senate primary in which he was challenging appointed Sen. Michael Bennet. But the question is why?
In the case of the Spector/Sestak bribe, the answer is obvious: The Obama Administration wanted the Pennsylvania senator to switch parties so that they would have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. To persuade him to switch, the White House had to do its utmost to clear the field and assure him a safe path to the Senate nomination in his new political party. So, Rahm Emanual asked former President Bill Clinton to dangle positions in front of Sestak to get him to drop out of the race.
But Michael Bennet was no great friend of the White House. Having never been elected to a statewide position, he lacked a political base and was never a particularly strong candidate. He only got the Senate seat as an appointment to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Ken Salazar who gave up the seat to become Secretary of the Interior in the Obama Administration. So why was the Obama Administration trying to clear the field for Bennet and assure him of the nomination?
The answer likely lies in the politics of healthcare. Bennet had been a question mark from the beginning of the healthcare debate. The Huffington Post reported, on November 22, 2009, that he was willing to lose his Senate seat if he had to in order to back healthcare reform. The Post reported that his dramatic announcement ended months of silence on the subject and relieved White House concerns that he was not going to back the bill.
Funny how Bennet’s announcement came less than two months after Romanoff was offered a job to drop out of the race!
If a connection can be documented between the offer and the vote (no other motivation seems credible) the transaction becomes particularly sickening. Trading a job for a vote is the crassest and most obvious form of bribery. But what else can account for Bennet’s sudden morph from being on the fence over health care to an ardent supporter who would lose all rather than see it die?
In any case, we need to help Jane Norton, Colorado’s former Lt Governor, beat either Bennet or Romanoff in the general election in the fall. She holds a lead and we need to throw this kind of horse-trading, bribery politics out of office.
© Dick Morris & Eileen McGann