June 3, 2010

The head of a watchdog group says the White House did nothing wrong by discussing possible jobs with several Democrats if they would refrain from challenging incumbents. Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the job discussions are just politics as usual.

In June and July of 2009, former President Bill Clinton asked Joe Sestak if he would be willing to take a White House appointment instead of challenging Arlen Specter's Senate seat. Republicans like Rep. Darrell Issa have demanded the Justice Department investigate.

White House counsel Robert Bauer argued in a memo Friday that the offer was just politics.

Less than a week later, it was revealed that White House chief of staff Jim Messina presented possible jobs to Colorado State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff if he didn't run against Sen. Michael Bennet.

Sloan told CNN's John Roberts that these types of offers happen all of the time.

SLOAN: There is really nothing improper in that. One of the things that is so odd about this story and the Sestak story is that people are surprised that the political appointments are given out for political reasons. Well that's how these jobs are given out in any administration going back to the beginning of administrations. Politicians get political appointments. Romanoff had apparently applied for a job through the transition office and Messina then called him to check in and see if he wanted those jobs. Obviously, Messina was doing it to try and keep Romanoff out of the primary. Although it was before he had announced that he was definitely running. But Romanoff declined and said he wasn't interested and wanted the Senate seat.

Republicans are just using the job discussions to attack the administration for political gain, according to Sloan.

ROBERTS: You are suggesting that there is nothing illegal about this. Republicans are taking a bit of a different attitude toward it. They have asked the Department of Justice to investigate the Sestak case. Now that this has Romanoff case has come out, do you think they are going to call for a full-blown investigation, maybe not just the DOJ but congressionally as well?

SLOAN: Absolutely. That's 100 percent certainly. This is a great issue for them to jump on, part of the reason is the Obama White House has said it was going to behave differently than other White Houses, more transparent, more ethical than everyone else. And this shows they were horse trading, just like everyone else. It is a great issue for the Republicans that want to dirty up the administration.

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