White House Official Discussed USAID Jobs With Democratic Challenger

Andrew Romanoff, a Democrat who served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2000 to 2008. Photo by: Romanoff for Colorado

A political firestorm over the Obama administration’s pre-election hiring tactics has reached the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The White House acknowledged June 3 that President Obama’s deputy chief of staff last September called a Colorado Democrat who planned to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet, who is up for reelection this November. Jim Messina, the White House deputy, “suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race,” said Andrew Romanoff, a former member of the House of Representatives, who had sought a USAID position during the presidential transition in 2008-‘09.

The White House has discussed three possible positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development with Andrew Romanoff, news agencies reports. The offers were made in September 2009 but were only made public over the past days when Romanoff, a Democrat who served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2000 to 2008, released an email sent to him by Jim Messina, the White House’s deputy chief of staff.

In a subsequent e-mail to Romanoff, Messina mentioned three USAID posts: deputy assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, director of that agency’s Office of Democracy and Governance, and director of the United States Trade and Development Agency, according to the New York Times.

The e-mail did not guarantee Romanoff’s appointment to any of the three positions, according to news reports.

Speculation has risen over past months that the White House is pulling weight to lure potential challengers to incumbent senators out of the Democratic Party’s primaries for the U.S. midterm elections this November.

In a statement released June 2, the White House said “Messina wanted to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters.”

Discussions ended after Romanoff expressed his commitment to his bid for a senate seat, according to the statement. There was no promise of a job, it added.

The White House also explained the offers were not pulled out of thin air but were in response to Romanoff’s earlier application for a USAID job.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.