Trade post floated by White House would have paid Romanoff $165K annual salary

Jon Ward Contributor
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One of the jobs floated by a top White House official to Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff, in an attempt to get him out of a primary challenge to an incumbent Democrat, would have paid him $165,300.

The director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency is paid an annual salary at the Executive Level III, according to the Plum Book, the government publication that lists roughly 9,000 appointment positions every four years after a presidential election.

The Office of Personnel Management lists Executive Level III positions as receiving a salary in 2010 of $165,300. A spokesman for the USTDA confirmed this number as the director’s salary.

The USTDA’s director position is a post requiring Senate confirmation.

USTDA has an annual budget of $55 million and 78 employees. The director’s post was one of three government positions that were dangled in front of Romanoff by deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina, according to both Romanoff and the White House.

The other two positions were Deputy Assistant Administrator for Latin America and Caribbean at USAID and Director, Office of Democracy and Governance at USAID. Neither of those jobs appeared to be as high-paying as the USTDA position, based on searches of OPM’s website.

The White House has insisted that no job was technically offered to Romanoff, but that Messina followed up with Romanoff after the former state legislator had applied online for government jobs following President Obama’s election in November 2008.

But even the mention of a potential job with such high compensation, in exchange for political activity such as leaving a Senate race, is certain to raise new questions about whether the White House has broken the law.

The incident also casts new doubt on the administration’s contention that all it offered to Rep. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania Democrat, to move him out of a Senate primary challenge was an unpaid position on a presidential advisory board.

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