On June 4th, an unpaid intern for Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, in his first week on the job, got an email from an acquaintance. Where, she asked, might she be able to catch up with the senator or one of his staffers to discuss fuel standards?
The intern allegedly offered this reply, as the Wall Street Journal reports: "With a donation of $2,400 or more," activists pushing a fuel-standards bill "can schedule a one-on-one hour long meeting with the Senator."
Want a "better chance to lobby Michael?" The intern offered this advice: Host "an event for $5,000 or more."
Such suggestions are not illegal - that line would only be crossed had Bennet offered legislative action in exchange for a donation - but they are, to say the least, unseemly. And hence the fate of the 22-year-old Middlebury College senior Jeffrey Garofano was sealed: Bennet's campaign said yesterday he had been let go.
While intern communications are usually vetted, Bennet's campaign said, the intern had used his personal account. The campaign insisted the intern acted alone - Bennet does not trade donations for access, it insisted - though one can't help but wonder where the intern got his figures. (Garofano did not respond to an media requests for comment.)
Bennet's opponent in the Democratic Senate primary, Andrew Romanoff, told the Journal the incident "raises serious questions" about the ways in which people get access to Bennet.