U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet has been meeting behind closed doors with top GOP leaders in Washington since last week in what was originally believed to be discussions over Loretta Lynch’s nomination for attorney general.
But now Politico reports that the secret meetings were in fact negotiations for Bennet to switch from the Democrat to Republican Party.
A senior Republican aide said that Bennet first approached Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about switching parties the day after a Denver fundraiser in early March that was heavily protested by his own party members. A fundraising event last week at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee formerly chaired by Bennet also drew more than 200 protestors from Food and Water Watch, a D.C.-based environmental organization.
In exchange for switching parties and increasing the Senate Republican majority to 55 members, Bennet is asking for a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee as well as a subcommittee chairmanship — the same deal given to former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell when he switched parties in 1995.
The party switch comes on the heels of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s sudden retirement last week. Both westerners were named as the top two most vulnerable Democrats heading into the 2016 election.
Bennet’s staff issued a statement late last night that he would be making a “major political announcement” at 4 p.m. today at his Denver headquarters at 1127 Sherman Street, Suite 150.
Congratulations Sen. Bennet! Allow us to be the first to welcome you to the party!