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How Not to Get Yourself Appointed to A Cabinet Post

So Adolfo Carrion Jr., Bronx Borough president in New York, supposedly spilled the beans on Friday night that he’s been tapped for a top Obama administration post, most likely as the new secretary of Housing and Urban Development. According to audience members, Carrion revealed the news in New Haven, at Yale’s Slifka Center for Jewish Life, where he was delivering a lecture on Latino Jewish relations, the New Haven Independent said.

From the Independent:

During a question and answer session following the talk, Carrion, telling listeners that he was speaking off the record, said he received a call that day from President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team informing that he will be nominated for a Cabinet post. He mentioned that he had been discussing four departments with the team: Housing and Urban Development (HUD), transportation, small business, and education. But he was already reported to be a finalist for one of those slots, director of HUD — a point position for cities like New Haven wrestling with a foreclosure crisis.

Carrion reported receiving text messages and calls throughout the evening congratulating him, including a call from Obama’s choice for secretary of state, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Oops! Not so fast. Once news reports surfaced with Carrion’s remarks, he backpedaled faster than Lance Armstrong in declaring that nothing had been decided. From Politico’s Ben Smith, who spoke to Carrion:

Carrion calls to say his comments at Yale had been misinterpreted, and that beyond “simply confirming what’s been in the news,” he didn’t reveal any other details of the process. He wouldn’t tell me where the process stands.

The Independent notes an audience member wrote to Politico to dispute Carrion’s account:

Don’t believe the denial—-I was at this event on Friday evening (and asked Mr. Carrion a question about the Yankee Stadium negotiations on his way out) and there was just no doubt that he was headed to Washington. In the second-to-last question he took, someone in attendance asked him about the cabinet rumors. He then asked if the event was off-the-record. The laws of the Jewish Sabbath prohibit writing and use of electronics like cell phones and the internet, and everyone shared a laugh when he answered his own question by reminding himself of the prohibitions of spreading news of what he was about to say. After saying that his name had been mentioned in association with the spots at Education, HUD, Transportation and the SBA, he said, “today, I got the call.” He wouldn’t say what job he had been asked to fill, but he said we should just expect to “hear some breaking news soon.” After a bunch of applause, which he welcomed, a leader of one of the sponsoring organizations asked if he would come back to Yale “with Barack Obama, Bill Richardson and Antonio Villaraigosa.” Borough President Carrion will certainly soon be Secretary Carrion.

Well, he might have been, if he had kept quiet about it. So far, no announcements today. Carrion still may get a post, of course, but not after what only will be described as a rocky start. Perhaps his first lesson: When being tapped by the president, it’s only good manners to let the president announce it first. Otherwise, it could be back to the Bronx, instead of on to Pennsylvania Avenue.

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