It won’t die… IT WON’T DIE!!!

May 28, 2010

The Obama White House must be going nuts trying to get past the story of whether it offered a bribe to Congressman Joe Sestak a bribe to cede the Pennsylvania Democratic primary to Senator Arlen Specter. It just won’t go away. After months of saying nothing untoward occurred and that no offer was made, while Sestak insisted one had been made, the administration finally got its lies straight admitted that, yes, there was some discussion of a job – an unpaid advisory position. The kicker? The intermediary was former President Bill Clinton:

President Obama’s chief of staff used former President Bill Clinton as an intermediary to see if Representative Joe Sestak would drop out of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary if given a prominent, but unpaid, advisory position, the White House said on Friday.

Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff, asked Mr. Clinton last summer to explore “options of service” on a presidential or senior government advisory board with Mr. Sestak, the White House said in a statement. Mr. Sestak said no and went on to win last week’s primary against Senator Arlen Specter.

The White House disputed Republican claims that the conversations might be illegal or improper. “There was no such impropriety,” Robert F. Bauer, the White House counsel, said in a memo released to reporters. “The Democratic Party leadership had a legitimate interest in averting a divisive primary fight and a similarly legitimate concern about the congressman vacating his seat in the House.”

Mr. Bauer went on to say that such horse-trading has been commonplace through history. “There have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior administrations – both Democratic and Republican, and motivated by the same goals – discussed alternative paths to service for qualified individuals also considering campaigns for public office,” he wrote. “Such discussions are fully consistent with the relevant law and ethical requirements.”

You know what? I agree with Bauer. This kind of thing has gone on as long as the Republic itself and, as I understand the law, talking over options and considering an unremunerated position doesn’t cross the legal red line.

If that’s what happened, and that’s a big “if.”

Consider: the day before this news comes out, Obama and Clinton had lunch together. On that same day, Sestak’s brother, who’s also his campaign manager, talked with White House officials about the bubbling controversy. It could be all on the up and up, in fact it probably (barely) is. But, toss in the pot an administration steeped in the Chicago Way of politics, an ex-President with a flexible sense of ethics, and a candidate who’s sorry he ever opened his mouth and really wants help winning his race, stir all that together, and you get…  Something that smells.

After all, if the truth was so anodyne, why’d it take so long to come with this stupid lie explanation? Experienced politicos aren’t buying it:

“I don’t believe that.  That may be what they’re concocting as a cover story.  But the idea that…Sestak is an Admiral in the Navy.  This is a smart, competent professional.  The idea that he misunderstood a free, unpaid job for the offer of Secretary of the Navy.  I mean, don’t you find that sort of boggles your mind?”

Not that Newt Gingrich would be biased or anything ( Rolling on the floor ), but I think he has a point.

And, just as Team Obama hopes this will all go away, Bill tosses red meat in front of reporters and bloggers by refusing to comment about the official explanation.

It may be that the Obama and Sestak camps are now telling the truth. It could be that White House Counsel Bauer is right that there’s smoke, but no fire. Yet something still smells here.

And I bet we’ll find out what before election day.

POSTSCRIPT: Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has been bulldogging this issue admirably since it first came up, but now he’s crossing the line into Dumb Land by bringing up the “I-word:” impeachment. Darrell, dude. Sit down and relax. Breathe deeply. Calm down. Remember the last time the Republicans went for impeachment? It took years to recover from that self-inflicted embarrassment, even though Bill really was guilty on at least one charge. To go for it again would be to take a shotgun to the party’s one remaining foot. The public is worried about jobs, the economy, crazed jihadis, and oil slicks, and won’t have any patience with us trying to force Obama from office before 2012. We’re trying to prove we’re responsible enough to be trusted with government and not a bunch of frothing putschists, remember? If it gets bad, he’ll just throw Rahm under the bus and that will be the end of it.

Besides, you do recall who’s next in line, don’t you??

RELATED: A Colorado candidate for a Senate seat says he got a job offer, too.

LINKS: At Ace’s, SorenKay votes for the coordinated lies theory. Sister Toldjah asks for a show of hands from anyone who believes this story.


And if you believe that one…

May 25, 2010

It’s the maybe-scandal that just won’t die. With Congressman and Democrat Senate nominee Joe Sestak still insisting that someone in the Obama administration offered him a bribe job to quit the primary race, now even the White House marketing department New York Times is getting sick of the stonewalling:

For three months, the White House has refused to say whether it offered a job to Representative Joe Sestak to get him to drop his challenge to Senator Arlen Specter in a Pennsylvania Democratic primary, as Mr. Sestak has asserted.

But the White House wants everyone who suspects that something untoward, or even illegal, might have happened to rest easy: though it still will not reveal what happened, the White House is reassuring skeptics that it has examined its own actions and decided it did nothing wrong. Whatever it was that it did.

The administration goes on to clear itself of any wrongdoing:

“Lawyers in the White House and others have looked into conversations that were had with Congressman Sestak,” Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “And nothing inappropriate happened.”

“Improper or not, did you offer him a job in the administration?” asked the host, Bob Schieffer.

“I’m not going to get further into what the conversations were,” Mr. Gibbs replied. “People that have looked into them assure me that they weren’t inappropriate in any way.”

Via Jennifer Rubin, who observes:

It is a measure of how frustrated the press has become with the perpetual stonewalling and outright contempt this president has shown the media that the Times and other outlets are now aligned with a conservative Republican (nominee Pat Toomey -PF) in demanding that one of the most liberal Democrats on the ballot come clean.

The Los Angeles Times’ Andrew Malcolm, whose “Top of the Ticket” column is must reading, has too much fun in his headline regarding Team Obama’s self-absolution:

Obama White House probe of Obama White House finds no Obama White House impropriety on Sestak

It’s getting to be a habit with these guys.

Meanwhile, upping the ante in the “No, he’s the liar” department, the White House trotted out chief political adviser David Axelrod to say that there’s no evidence to support Sestak’s allegations:

Senior adviser to the president David Axelrod said Monday evening that there is “no evidence” that White House officials tried to keep a Democratic congressman from entering the Pennsylvania Senate race by offering him a high-ranking government job.

“When the allegations were made, they were looked into. And there was no evidence of such a thing,” Axelrod said on CNN’s “John King USA.”

So now we have Sestak insisting he’s telling the truth but refusing to name names, while the Democratic White House says the Democratic nominee for the US Senate is a liar. They can’t both be telling the truth….

Finally, in the “If it had been George W. Bush’s White House” category, we have Archy Cary at Big Journalism wondering why the media has been so slow to demand a special prosecutor?

Um, it’s just a guess, but… Maybe it’s because the Democrats won the election and the media is a bunch of hypocrites?

Nah.   Oh go on


So, who’s being dishonest?

May 22, 2010

A few months ago, Congressman Joe Sestak, the Democratic nominee for the (now open) Senate seat in Pennsylvania, stated quite clearly that the Obama administration offered him a federal job if he would quit his primary challenge to (soon to be former) Senator Arlen Spector.

If true, that’s a federal crime.

California Congressman Darrell Issa (R) has been pursuing this, but hasn’t had much luck getting past the administration’s stonewalling and deflections. Now he’s put together a video compiling, on the one hand, Sestak’s assertions that the offer was made and, on the other, White House Press Secretary’s Robert Gibb’s repeated evasions:

Either one of them is lying, or the other is covering up the truth to protect his boss from scandal.

Which is it?

(via Gabriel Malor)

UPDATE: The sections of the federal code that may have been broken with the initial offer.

UPDATE II: This is getting circular. A link in the previous update leads here.


A damning silence?

March 13, 2010

Representative Joe Sestak (D-PA) has accused the Obama Adminstration of, in effect, offering him a bribe to drop his primary challenge to Senator Arlen Specter (D-R-D-PA). Reporters have repeatedly asked White House Press Secretary Gibbs for information and clarifications. Gibbs has dodged these questions in a way worthy of a Nixon staffer. Byron York recounts the tale so far and asks how long will Gibbs keep stonewalling?

Sestak’s charge is a serious one that could potentially involve criminal conduct on the part of someone in the administration. And Sestak, while not offering any new details, is standing by his story. “Something happened last July before I got in the race,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program March 9. When he was asked about it on the radio program, Sestak continued, “I answered it honestly; I just said yes, but I didn’t go beyond that. And actually, Joe, I don’t think I should. That’s politics.” Just to clarify, Sestak said, of the radio interview, “They said to me, have you been offered a job not to get in the race, or to get in the race? And I said yes.”

Not only is the charge serious; Sestak himself, with his long career in the Navy before winning a seat in Congress, is a serious source. On March 8, at a health care event in Pennsylvania, President Obama referred to Sestak as “somebody who rendered outstanding service to our nation before he was in Congress.”

And yet, after an initial denial, the White House spokesman hasn’t been able to muster any comment on the allegation. Gibbs has not repeated the denial, hasn’t issued a new one, and has now dropped any pretense of checking on the story. How long will the Sestak Stonewall continue?

Between this and the long-simmering Inspectors-General scandal alone, there are more than a few political IEDs that could blow up on the administration before November.

RELATED: Politico reports on questions posed to White House Counsel Robert Bauer by Congressman Darrell Issa of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding Sestak’s accusation.

(via Power Line)

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Ace of Spades, and thanks for the link! 🙂

UPDATE II: Ed Morrissey thinks this won’t go anywhere legally (and I think he’s right), but that it could be important politically.