By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
Minnesota Sen. Dick Cohen will be plying his love and support of the arts at the White House.
The DFL legislative veteran was appointed as one of 26 members of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the White House announced. He will serve on the committee, chaired by First Lady Michelle Obama, along side better known names including violinist YoYo Ma, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, actors Ed Norton, Sarah Jessica Parker and Forest Whitaker.
Cohen, in Washington this week to be sworn in by the vice president and attend a concert of classical music at the White House, said the position will not require him to retire from his legislative post.
This isn't Cohen's first brush with a potential White House arts appointment. In the spring, the DFLer was in the "low level" mix for chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, he said. Rocco Landesman, a well known New York producer, was appointed instead.
After he was passed over for that gig, Cohen said he began hearing about the possibility of the committee appointment. The White House began vetting him this summer and the vetting continued through last month. The checks including running IRS, FBI and a look into his arts background and potential economic conflicts.
"It was low key but they still wanted to check thoroughly," Cohen said.
Cohen has long been an Obama supporter. He was on the Minnesota campaign steering committee, on the national finance committee and on candidate Obama's arts policy committee. He was also a delegate to the Democratic National Convention last year.
Earlier this month, he was one of a few dozen donors to attend a dinner with Vice President Joe Biden in Minnesota. Cohen said Biden seemed aware that the appointment was coming.