GOP Wants to Know if Administration Tried to Lure Challenger in Colo.

Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:16pm

Updated: June 2, 8:36 p.m.

Republicans seized Wednesday on another report claiming that the Obama administration used the possibility of a job offer to try to clear the primary field for a vulnerable incumbent Democrat — this time for Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

According to an Associated Press report citing unnamed administration sources, White House officials floated the possibility of an unspecified administration post in an attempt to persuade former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff not to challenge Bennet in the state’s primary.

In response to the AP report, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Amber Marchand issued a statement calling on Romanoff “to explain all of the details surrounding his discussions with the White House, the positions they proposed, and the individuals who contacted him immediately.”

Romanoff outpolled Bennet at the state Democratic convention May 22, but both candidates qualified for the Aug. 10 primary and Bennet is considered the frontrunner.

Republicans in Colorado already had been calling on Romanoff to disclose whether he spoke to White House officials about a possible job before launching his campaign last fall, but those questions gained national attention following the White House’s May 28 admission that former President Bill Clinton — acting as a go-between for the White House — approached Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) last summer about the possibility of an unpaid position on a presidential advisory board if Sestak did not mount a primary challenge to incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter.

Sestak later confirmed that Clinton had approached him, and the GOP has been pressing for further details.

“There are a number of critical questions that remain unanswered in Colorado and Pennsylvania, and the Democrats have a responsibility to come clean with these details immediately,” Marchand said.

Oversight and Government Reform ranking Republican Darrell Issa (Calif.) — the most outspoken Congressional critic of the administration’s handling of the situation in Pennsylvania — said the AP’s report “underscores the need for some independent agent, whether it is a special prosecutor or the FBI, to launch an investigation and determine once and for all what the truth is and if any laws were violated.”

Romanoff’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.