Make him an offer he can't refuse

Plausible deniability has always been a cornerstone for staying out of trouble when it comes to down and dirty backroom politics, but the circle may be tightening just a notch for the Obama administration.

Last month Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak revealed that he had been offered a job last summer within the Obama administration, possibly as Secretary of the Navy, as an inducement to drop his primary challenge against Senator Arlen Specter (D-Penn.).

The stakes were raised this week, Politico reports, as Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Cal.), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to White House Counsel Robert Bauer:

... if Sestak's allegation is true, administration officials may have violated a federal statute which makes it a crime for a government employee to use his authority "for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate" for certain offices, including Senate seats.

"While the White House may think this is politics as usual, what is spectacularly unusual is when a candidate - a U.S. congressman no less - freely acknowledges such a proposal," Issa wrote. "Almost always candidates keep quiet about such deals, and for good reason - they are against the law."

The Issa letter asks some pointed questions, requesting answers by March 18th, including:

  • Communications with Sestak by Rahm Emanuel or any other White House political operative
  • What positions were offered
  • Any investigation after the allegation was disclosed
  • Will a referral be made to the DOJ

Senator Specter noted the serious nature of the charge to CNS News, and suggested that Sestak, who trails Specter by double digits in primary polling, is attempting to make political hay out of the allegations:

...that's a pretty strong charge to make against the president's administration, implying perhaps even the president himself...

...There is a specific federal statute, which makes it a bribe to make an offer for a public office. When I was district attorney, if somebody came and told me that, I would say, well, name names.

...Congressman Sestak has gotten a lot of political mileage out of that.

According to local news accounts, Sestak has been feeling the heat from all quarters:

He also has said that Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee... tried to force him out after Specter switched parties...

Gov. Rendell has been vocal in calling Sestak's challenge harmful to the party, as has state chairman T.J. Rooney.

Party leaders are worried that an expensive primary could weaken an incumbent Democratic senator.

The White House vehemently denied the initial reports, and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has since declined to answer questions:

Gibbs jumped in, "I don't have any--"

Garrett said, "Darrell Issa sent a letter to the White House Counsel -"

Gibbs again interrupted, "I don't have anything additional on that."

Garrett asked, "Are you ever going to have anything additional on that?"

Gibbs responded, "I don't have it today."

While this case awaits clear evidence, it is of a disturbing pattern with the recent judgeship offer to the brother of a Democratic Congressman wavering on ObamaCare.  When the Chief of Staff has sent a pollster a dead fish, such questions are not so easily dismissed.

Perhaps now that the President has delayed his Asia trip, Mr. Bauer and Mr. Gibbs will have time to come up with some answers.
Plausible deniability has always been a cornerstone for staying out of trouble when it comes to down and dirty backroom politics, but the circle may be tightening just a notch for the Obama administration.

Last month Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak revealed that he had been offered a job last summer within the Obama administration, possibly as Secretary of the Navy, as an inducement to drop his primary challenge against Senator Arlen Specter (D-Penn.).

The stakes were raised this week, Politico reports, as Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Cal.), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to White House Counsel Robert Bauer:

... if Sestak's allegation is true, administration officials may have violated a federal statute which makes it a crime for a government employee to use his authority "for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate" for certain offices, including Senate seats.

"While the White House may think this is politics as usual, what is spectacularly unusual is when a candidate - a U.S. congressman no less - freely acknowledges such a proposal," Issa wrote. "Almost always candidates keep quiet about such deals, and for good reason - they are against the law."

The Issa letter asks some pointed questions, requesting answers by March 18th, including:

  • Communications with Sestak by Rahm Emanuel or any other White House political operative
  • What positions were offered
  • Any investigation after the allegation was disclosed
  • Will a referral be made to the DOJ

Senator Specter noted the serious nature of the charge to CNS News, and suggested that Sestak, who trails Specter by double digits in primary polling, is attempting to make political hay out of the allegations:

...that's a pretty strong charge to make against the president's administration, implying perhaps even the president himself...

...There is a specific federal statute, which makes it a bribe to make an offer for a public office. When I was district attorney, if somebody came and told me that, I would say, well, name names.

...Congressman Sestak has gotten a lot of political mileage out of that.

According to local news accounts, Sestak has been feeling the heat from all quarters:

He also has said that Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee... tried to force him out after Specter switched parties...

Gov. Rendell has been vocal in calling Sestak's challenge harmful to the party, as has state chairman T.J. Rooney.

Party leaders are worried that an expensive primary could weaken an incumbent Democratic senator.

The White House vehemently denied the initial reports, and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has since declined to answer questions:

Gibbs jumped in, "I don't have any--"

Garrett said, "Darrell Issa sent a letter to the White House Counsel -"

Gibbs again interrupted, "I don't have anything additional on that."

Garrett asked, "Are you ever going to have anything additional on that?"

Gibbs responded, "I don't have it today."

While this case awaits clear evidence, it is of a disturbing pattern with the recent judgeship offer to the brother of a Democratic Congressman wavering on ObamaCare.  When the Chief of Staff has sent a pollster a dead fish, such questions are not so easily dismissed.

Perhaps now that the President has delayed his Asia trip, Mr. Bauer and Mr. Gibbs will have time to come up with some answers.

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