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Bush ethics chief to GOP: 'Move on' from Sestak story

Earlier this week, Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics officer under George W. Bush, argued that it didn't look like there all that was much to the Joe Sestak story. Even if there had been some kind of "job" offer, Painter said, this constituted "nothing new."

Now that the White House has released its version of events, Painter is even more adamant. He just told me in an interview that it's time for Republicans to "move on."

They aren't doing this, as it happens. GOP Rep Darrell Issa is out with a statement today arguing that the White House memo clearly shows a law may have been broken.

Painter, however, dismissed the "scandal." He made two points. First, he said, now that we know the "job" was an unpaid advisory position, it's even less likely that this was intended as a quid pro quo.

"Where is the quid pro quo?" Painter asked. "Nobody who has a halfway decent chance of winning a Senate race is going to give it up to sit on an advisory board. That would be a laughable tradeoff."

Painter also took issue with the notion that the version of events aired by the White House today could in any way be illegal. Republicans point to a Federal statute that prohibits any promises of "employment" as a "reward for any political activity."

But Painter says applying this to the Sestak situation is a big stretch. He argued that the sort of "political activity" referred to in the statute concerns political activity you might do for someone else, not actions you might take on your own behalf, such as dropping out of a race.

For instance, he said, this statute prevents things like the offer of a job to someone in exchange for their support for a particular candidate. "I cannot see how this statute can be reasonably applied to a candidate's own decision on whether to run in an election," Painter said.

"Based on the information disclosed from the White House, it's even more apparent that this is a non issue," Painter said. "No scandal. Time to move on."

By Greg Sargent  |  May 28, 2010; 2:57 PM ET
Categories:  Joe Sestak , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Next: Happy Hour Roundup

Comments

"No scandal. Time to move on."

Seems like the Republicans are just as unable to move on from alleged "scandals" as the Democrats were (still are) back when Bush was in charge.

Tit-for-tat sucks...

Posted by: sbj3 | May 28, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Yes, time for Toomey to start waving around the guns and fetuses.

Posted by: joeff | May 28, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

How embarassing should it be that this blog is now nothing more than full-time shilling and flogging for the Obamunists?

For the past 48 hours, the strident defense of the moonbats has been that Obama could offer any federal jobs to any Democrats he wante in exchange for political favors, including getting out of the Senate primary race.

Now, the WH defense is that it was okay because they only offered an unpaid job.

So all the know it alls like WB will now flip flop and dance to their Pied Piper's latest tune: Never mind what we said before, it's okay because it was an upaid job!

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 28, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Sure sbj, it's not like Sestak shot an old man in the face or exposed an undercover CIA out of spite.

Posted by: john7 | May 28, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

shorter quarterback: Bush's former ethics chief is an Obamabot.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 28, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Toomey's smart statement:

"The job offer that is most important to me is the job offer that is extended to unemployed Pennsylvanians trying to support their families. I want to be discussing key issues like the bailouts, which Joe Sestak has strongly supported and I’ve strongly opposed; the national health care disaster, which Joe Sestak strongly supports and I oppose; and the massive runaway spending in Washington, which he supports and I oppose. As far as I’m concerned, I would rather pursue those topics than any insider deal between Congressman Sestak and the White House."

Just another "insider deal" from the admin - they appear to be the masters at it!

Posted by: sbj3 | May 28, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Greg! That shot at QB was beneath you...

Posted by: sbj3 | May 28, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Haha, nice one Greg!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"The job offer that is most important to me is the job offer that is extended to unemployed Pennsylvanians trying to support their families" ...

"That's why I support Wall Street over Main Street and insider special interest groups like the Club for Growth."

Nuff said.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: "shorter quarterback: Bush's former ethics chief is an Obamabot."

Standing ovation!!!

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 28, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

So this is a whole lotta nuthin'? Now what are Republicans going to do for a big scandal just in time for the 2010 elections?

Posted by: wiscoman | May 28, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

This story has all the buzz-phrases that make the bulls(hit) of the Tea-OP charge like mad: "Clinton", "nothing-new", "Rahm", "hopey-changey", etc.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | May 28, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Greg, FTW.

When are we going to move on Greg?

Posted by: lmsinca | May 28, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

That Q.B. uses words like "Obamunists" is the final straw. This moron is completely devoid intellectually or morally.

I'm through debating idiots who talk about socialism, government takeovers,death panels and now communism without even being able to define the names they are calling people. If Q.B. thinks Obama or we are communists then he is completely IGNORANT of what communism means...or he is simply a hyperbolic name caller and a liar....which is it? Ignorance or lying?

Q.B. has never given a rational reason to vote republican...they screwed the economy...we suffered the largest terrorist attack on our soil during their reign...we tortured...he has NOTHING to add and so he simply tries to subtract and tar and feather.

Q.B. is the worst kind of individual..who after screwing things up won't even get out of the way and let the responsible adults clean up the multiple messes his people have left behind. It would be funny if it wasn't so very sad!!!

So now we're all Obamunists. That pretty much seals it!

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 28, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

shorter Greg Sargent: Obama is immaculate and without sin; speaketh no blasphemy against him.

Imagine a GOP WH that stonewalled for weeks and then came out with a coordinated story like this -- coordinated with another Republican who had accused the WH of a crime. Obviously, Greg and his fellow travelers would have none of it.

The most notable thing about the story and how it is worded is what it does NOT say, which is that the unpaid board position was the only "job" offered.

Sestak's statement could be absolutely true, and yet a gross half truth. Let's here them say that call from Clinton was the sole contact, and the job he offered the only one offered.

This statement, btw, is patent nonsense:

"He argued that the sort of "political activity" referred to in the statute concerns political activity you might do for someone else, not actions you might take on your own behalf, such as dropping out of a race."

Dropping out of the race was to be for Specter's (and the DNC's) benefit.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 28, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

BTW Journalism 101. Greg has reported what Darrell Issa has said and done...and he has reported what Richard Painter..another R has said. Since when is reporting what people on both sides of the issue not considered fair and balanced.

LMAO Fair and balanced..and to think the very same morons who watch a cable propaganda channel that tries to foist itself off as fair and balanced without even the pretense of a tough question for the brain dead like Palin have the gall to gripe about Greg's reporting is just amazing.

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 28, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Q.B. thanks for amazing us with your biased ignorance. Does it do your heart good to realize that the vast majority on this blog think you have NO CREDIBILITY or ability to think critically. You are the ultimate right wing knee jerker.

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 28, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"That Q.B. uses words like "Obamunists" is the final straw"

It's kinda like McCarthyism/Bushism.

If you don't agree with us you are ________.

Fill in the blank with today's flavor:

Commie
Not a "real American"
With the terrorists
Weak
Gutless

etc...

It's really the anti-intellectual argument.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"So now we're all Obamunists. That pretty much seals it!"

Oh no! Ruk called me hyperbolic and won't talk to me any more!

I've used that term forever. I like it. I've never called The One a communist; I've called him a neo-Marxist, which he largely is. I'm quite sure I know more about those classifications than a knucklehead like ruk.

And I think Obamunist captures a lot of good flavor, more about the mindless nature of his devout followers like ruk than anything else. Someday soon, some brave soul will stumble out from their ranks and right another God Who Failed.

Ruk is obviously still upset that I disproved his absurd lie about Dick Cheney and the Iraq War.

You are a laugh riot, ruk. I love when you call people hyperbolic. I love when you call people intellectually vacant right after they have proved you made a false claim -- you who constantly and idly boast about being factual and truthful. LOL

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 28, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"It's really the anti-intellectual argument."

We'll all keep that in mind the next time you refer to "baggers," and when ruk, liam the liar, or Gasbag delivers his next epithet bomb.

You make this easy.


Posted by: quarterback1 | May 28, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

RUK, leave him to his devices. This ("I like it.") is HOW HE GETS ENJOYMENT. Just like SBJ trying to rain on every Dem parade. It's less about politics and more about trying to peave Liberals... because that's what HE LIKES.

Sad, really.

And, as I said, totally and thoroughly anti-intellectual.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

The right's trying to conflate this minor issue into a larger story is just another ploy to distract us all from the "reign of terror" (pun intended) that was and is conservatism. Without any ideas of their own to right the economy, the environment, the wars, etc. it's much easier to sit back and make molehills into mountains of oil. It's much healthier on the body and mind to ignore them and focus on the problems at hand, we have enough of them.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 28, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Ethan "trying to rain on every Dem parade. It's less about politics and more about trying to peave Liberals..."

I hear ya Ethan. There have been a few righties on here worth debating...Scott C comes to mind...but as you say Ethan...our few regulars are "totally and thoroughly anti-intellectual."

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 28, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Baggers deserve the term because they are anti-intellectual. Just like you.

Try having a conversation with any of the drudge-baggers on one of the previous threads. See how far you get.

But on the other hand, you've had (and lost) intellectual debates with each of us. You can't pretend to hide behind words like "Obamunist" around us. We'll call you out, and do, for good reason.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

There are still quite a few issues hat cloud this affair:

1. The coordination with the campaign prior to the memo release just absolutely stinks.
2. Sestak repeatedly referred to it as a "job offer." Not only that, but Sestak assented that he was offered a "high-ranking federal job."
3. The WH and Sestak now say he was offered a position on an Advisory Board. There are only two active ones, and if Sestak was offered the Intelligence Advisory Board then the NY Times says he could NOT have retained his House seat.
4. It's also rather convenient that the position is on an "Executive" Advisory Board. If it was a position created by Congress then it would not be legal, even if unpaid.
5. Why did they wait so long to get this out there?

If you aren't a bit suspicious then ... ?

Posted by: sbj3 | May 28, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Ethan and ruk, accusing others of anti-intellectualism. How adorable.

Ethan, your comments in the pat 24 have been a real intellectual tour de force, RealZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz

Do you admit that the Sestak/WH statement does not fully address the issue? That all it says is that Clinton made a call and offered an unpaid job?

Why should we believe that was the whole story, other than that Obama tells us it was cool?

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 28, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

sbj, you you must stop being anti-intellectual. It is not tolerated.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 28, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Again, QB, try having a fact-based conversation with any of those people. Did you? I've tried in the past. It's not worth it. But it IS very mockable. You, however, have no excuse for stooping to that level ("Obamunist") with us except to prove the fact that you are just another dittohead Bush/Palin dead-ender anti-intellectual at heart.

"Do you admit that the Ses..."

I admit nothing. I honestly don't give a darn about this story as there are MANY issues that are each VASTLY more important than this bogus BS that is only a story because it has been pushed by the same Republican Party that refused to investigate or do oversight over the Iraq War, Blackwater, Torture, and the many many many many many other GOP-induced scandals of the last decade.

"Why should we believe that was the whole story, other than that Obama tells us it was cool?"

Believe whatever you want. Free country. It's just that if you believe Darrell Issa, you'll wind up looking like an even bigger fool than he is. And you already look pretty foolish in my eyes, given your history of comments.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

"sbj, you you must stop being anti-intellectual. It is not tolerated."

As I said, believe what you want.

But if you fall in line behind the likes of Darrell Issa, Sarah Palin and George W. Bush and then consider yourself an intellectual, be prepared to be called out for it! Hahaha! As you rightly should!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"So all the know it alls like WB will now flip flop and dance to their Pied Piper's latest tune: Never mind what we said before, it's okay because it was an upaid job!"

I don't give a rat's as* whether the job offered was paid or unpaid. In fact, I don't give a rat's as* about the story period. It is a thimbleful of piss. Though I can understand that you'd rather talk about ANYTHING other than how the GOP's childish and stupid anti-government philosophy is leading to the destruction the Gulf of Mexico.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 28, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

wb,

The defense by Sestak, the WH, and Greg is that the job offered was unpaid, which seems to imply, although not as of necessity, that they believe a paying job offer would be problematic.

Do you think they are wrong?

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 28, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE the old "There are more important things going on" deflection!

When is that ever not the case?

Posted by: sbj3 | May 28, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

QB, do you think Darrell Issa was wrong not to investigate Blackwater's mishandling of taxpayer money?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

One reason I respect conservatives is their integrity towards local governance. That is, their rejection of the Washington-elites messing about in what are local matters.

Which is why this piece by Bill Kristol on who ought to represent in Arkansas-3 and why conservatives from elsewhere ought to become active in the race is so...well, choose your word.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/terrible-seat-waste

Posted by: bernielatham | May 28, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, a little consistency now and then would not hurt your credibility.

I'm touched, though, that you seem to think I should be above using snarky language.

"And you already look pretty foolish in my eyes, given your history of comments."

Yawn.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 28, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"QB, do you think Darrell Issa was wrong not to investigate Blackwater's mishandling of taxpayer money?"

How random. How ad hominem.

But probably some combination of no, and I don't care, would apply. Or how about just, I'm more concerned about the Gulf or primary-gate.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 28, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I thought getting your ducks in a row was a good thing. Silly me. Now I realize that it was just part of a "coverup".

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | May 28, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"I LOVE the old "There are more important things going on" deflection! When is that ever not the case?"

Yeah, it's much more important to froth and fret over a trivial intra-party personnel matter than to worry about the worst environmental disaster in American history.

Good grief. And you clowns wonder why nobody takes you seriously.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 28, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

So this non-issue, that even Bush people think is a waste of time, is more important than the flagrant misuse of taxpayer funds and the bilking of our military during time of armed conflict...

I see.

That really says it all.

As I said, you already look pretty foolish in my eyes.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"I LOVE the old "There are more important things going on" deflection!"

From the King of deflection himself who may not have noticed that quite a few of us here have tried to bring the topic of discussion back to more relevant issues. This story may be important to a few beltway types and the people of PA and let's not forget the Obama bashers, but most of us could care less. AFAIC it's been a non-story since the beginning.

Anyway, have a nice Memorial weekend everyone, I have some things that need to get done.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 28, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Good grief, - when it comes quarterback, the scroll key is your friend. He's only interested in pushing people's buttons. Just ignore him.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | May 28, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Human Events talks with Gingrich and Armey on the goal to recreate '94 and there's a conclusion here on how the soul of the nation is at risk just like it was for Adam and Eve so long ago.
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=37209

Posted by: bernielatham | May 28, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

The GOP really has nothing new to offer. They are grasping at straws. They really are the party of no.

Funny how they think a president who lied us into war, outed a CIA agent and authorized torture is just fine and dandy but one who offers a non-paying advisory job to a congressman is "over the line".

Sad, sad party of whiners.

Posted by: basket | May 28, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Duly noted SCat, thx :)

Great weekend/holiday lmsinca!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

So Ethan doesn't think it is important whether someone high up in the WH committed a felony.

What does that say?

You also didn't care whether Blumenthal lied about serving in Vietnam.

What does that say?

What is the pattern here?

You see why I could not care less about your assessment of me?

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 28, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

One can be sure that comparisons between The Fall and _______ are generated out of at least two reasons: 1. To sell books 2. desperation.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | May 28, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Great coverage as always, Greg.

Darell's got a dud on his hands... again.
http://www.progressiveblue.com/diary/5303/issa-issa-baby

Posted by: MichaelConrad | May 28, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Time spent with QB is rather like time spent at cutting oneself, it seems to me.

And here who's coming at Hatch if he don't behave... http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/100125-sen-hatch-must-oppose-tax-hike-conservatives-insist

I think they'll come at him anyway and the question is whether the more strategically-minded run effective counter-efforts.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 28, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

What, QB, you can't tell?

I don't fall for GOP claptrap misinformation and you do. Simple as that. Heckuva job.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 28, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

@Chuck - Gingrich certainly wants to sell books (and Newt t-shirts, ashtrays etc) but the HE writer here is plugging into a cultural looniness at the center of Evangelical and Catholic theology. Elaine Pagel's "Adam, Eve and the Serpent" is a wonderful book on historical interpretations of the Fall, for those interested in such things.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 28, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Nikki Haley in SC joins the Palin/Paul "no-one has the right to ask me questions" brigade...
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/05/haley_i_will_deal_with_this_situation_once_this_el.php?ref=fpa

Posted by: bernielatham | May 28, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

All, happy hour roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/05/happy_hour_roundup_18.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 28, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The desperation of the teabag cult is pathetic.

They are so certain that the president put himself in a position of impeachment over a party primary.

1. He's not that stupid, and has White House attornies to make sure of it. Nor is he stupid enough to come out with a comment in the middle of a primary.

2. By Bush's precedence, the president is now only required to have the judicial dept. write a memo and any act by the executive branch becomes legal.

Posted by: Beeliever | May 28, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

@sbj3

Greg's "shorter QB" comment was accurate and entirely warranted. How was it "beneath him" to respond to attack number Eleventy Billion from QB?

@qb

You honestly believe Greg thinks POTUS is perfect? Do you read his posts or just skim for buzzwords that you can use in your screedifesto comments? Seriously, how could you read this blog and think that?

Greg has you dead to rights here. Once again, you've got nothing.

Posted by: MichaelConrad | May 28, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Bernie-

I think Newt and Dick have low self-esteem issues. We should try and buck them up. ;)

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | May 28, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

shorter quarterback: Bush's former ethics chief is an Obamabot.

================================

actually, it goes deeper than that

anybody who is NOT bats**t insane is an Obamabot

if you support America, you are an Obamabot

you are either a teabagger terrorist od an Obamabot

it's US, We the American People, versus the teabagger terrorists

you either support America, or you support the republootard party

time to decide

US or THEM

Posted by: nada85484 | May 28, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

hey quarterback, if you are so smart, and so in tune with the desires of the common man, how could you deny us the pleasure of your service as a public officer

why ain't YOU running for office, oh wise one ???

bless us with your wisdom. Prove how popular your beliefs really are

show all us Obamabots how it's done

if everybody really agrees with you, winning an election should be easy for you

put up or shut up, 4ss hat

Posted by: nada85484 | May 28, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

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