During the run up to his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) stated that the Obama administration offered him a job in the administration if he would give up his run against Specter. This became an issue when people realized it is a felony to offer compensation to induce someone to quit a race. Since people realized his original claim amounted to an accusation of a crime, both Sestak and Obama spokeman Robert Gibbs have been evasive at best when asked about the situation. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has been pushing the issue hard for the last month or so. Yesterday, President Obama held his first actual press conference in close to a year and he was asked about Sestak's claim. Obama did his best Nixonian self-finding of no personal wrongdoing and said a full report will be forthcoming shortly. Today, a report was issued which mostly refuted Sestak's claim that they attempted to bribe him to get him out of the race. Basically the report (here's a link
) says former president Bill Clinton talked with Sestak and recommended he drop out of the race for the good of the party and told him that if he wanted to stay in government service he could be appointed to some executive branch advisory board position. The memo makes a point to clarify that the advisory board positions are uncompensated (no pay). Now Sestak is saying "Yeah, sure that's about right."
Nope. Doesn't pass the smell test. This guy is a congressman trying to get a job as a senator. In other words he makes $174,000 and looking to keep making that kind of money. You don't convince him to drop out of a race with an offer of an unpaid board position. My guess is he was offered something more substantial (ambassadorship or a cabinet position) and this memo specifically modified that to an unpaid position to sanitize the crime.
Bottom line, I don't think the initial act was all that out of the ordinary in DC. The underlying crime is now less important than the cover up. Integrity should matter to voters and both the administration and Sestak have shown they are lacking in that department. Will Pennsylvanians care?
Reporters should continue to attempt to get Sestak to answer whether he was lying months ago or if he is lying today. My guess is reporters will buy the administration's spin on this and quietly move on to other matters.
Labels: Clinton, Issa, Obama, Sestak, Specter