Former Speaker of the House James Amann visited the Capitol Press Room Tuesday afternoon to tell the media he had officially declined newly elected Speaker of the House Chris Donovan’s six-figure job offer, which according to Amann had been revised Monday into a part-time position with a $60,000 salary and benefits.
“I am not a rich man. I have to work for a living,” Amann said. He said if he had accepted the job he would have given Donovan 200 percent, however, many even within the Democratic caucus wondered if it was realistic for Amann to work for Donovan, continue fundraising for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and run for governor all at the same time.
“I regret that Jim will not be joining our team in the Speaker’s office, but understand his decision,” Donovan said in this written statement. “He and I had a chance to discuss these matters at length yesterday and again today, and it became clear that his sense of the demands of his political work differed from mine to an extent that it made employment in my office unrealistic.”
Setting aside their own personal feelings for Amann, Democratic insiders said virtually the entire Democratic caucus felt it was wrong to offer Amann the job. Many said they were unaware it had even been offered to him until shortly before the statement was released Friday.
Amann said he expected to receive some negative publicity about the job offer, but was surprised by the chilly reception.
“It’s not an uncommon thing in this building to be a former representative or senator or whatever and receive a job,” Amann said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
Amann met with Donovan on Monday in Meriden, at which time he made the second, reduced offer for a part-time job at $60,000 per year plus benefits. Amann said he seriously considered the offer because, “for me it wasn’t about the $120,000; it was about the insurance.”
Amann is a cancer survivor and his wife has had a kidney transplant. Amann said he learned this morning they will be able to obtain health insurance through his wife’s employer.
When asked if he felt the controversy over the job offer would impact his run for governor, Amann said, “Why would that be?”
Amann said he was uncomfortable with some of the new job restrictions that Donovan proposed Monday, along with the part-time position, because they may have hindered his campaign for governor.
He said that after the meeting with Donovan Monday he visited Waterbury, where he was greeted by a room of about 75 Latinos excited about his gubernatorial campaign.
He said Tuesday that if he hadn’t gone Monday to Waterbury, he may have accepted the position. But he said he will maintain his position as a fundraiser with the MS Society and is currently looking for another job in the private sector.