Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Issa: White House memo doesn't hold up, Clinton and Sestak need to answer questions

UPDATE: I've added Sestak's statement below the fold, as Issa asked in HIS statement for Sestak to respond.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), whose doggedness in asking question after question about an answer Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn.) gave to a local TV reporter is bearing fruit, responds to the White House's memo on what happened. Issa:

After more than ten weeks of outstanding questions, the White House has offered a version of events that has important differences from what Congressman Sestak has been saying for months – that he was offered a ‘job’ by ‘someone in the White House’ in exchange for leaving the Pennsylvania Senate race.

I’m very concerned that in the rush to put together this report, the White House has done everything but explain its own actions and has instead worked to craft a story behind closed doors and coordinate with those involved. The White House has admitted today to coordinating an arrangement that would represent an illegal quid-pro-quo as federal law prohibits directly or indirectly offering any position or appointment, paid or unpaid, in exchange for favors connected with an election.

President Clinton and Congressman Sestak now need to answer questions about what the White House has released today – that at the behest of the White House Chief of staff, they dispatched a former President to get Joe Sestak out of the Pennsylvania Senate Primary.

As Chris Cillizza argues, the White House more or less created this story by failing to give a straight answer about Sestak's February claim of being offered some kind of job to leave the race against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penn.). And I think Issa's role as the chief critic had something to do with this.

Issa, who became ranking member of the Government Reform & Oversight Committee last year, has taken the wheel with both hands and issued statements, booked TV interviews, and pounded the table about plenty of issues that have not taken on life outside of the conservative media, such as the firing of an Americorps Inspector General in 2009 and the DOJ's decision not to pursue a case against the New Black Panther Party. Liberals simply didn't take his questions seriously, and assumed that the media would blow them off, too.

"You know," Sestak said in an April 22 interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, "I didn't make the allegation. I was asked the question and answered honestly. I don't know Darrell Issa. He's never come and talked to me. And he should do what he wants, but only the right-wing Republicans like him and Arlen Specter."

But Sestak pitched a ball 5 mph down the plate, and it was inevitable that if Issa worked every day to ask these questions -- and Sestak won his primary -- the story would get somewhere. Democrats made a huge error in ignoring him and blowing him off.

Issa's whole statement:

Issa Statement Regarding White House-Sestak Memorandum “We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington. It’s a status quo that extends beyond any particular party, and right now that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got, with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face…we’re up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election.” – Candidate Obama, Night of the South Carolina Democratic Primary

WASHINGTON. D.C. – House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) released the following statement regarding the memorandum released today by White House Counsel Robert Bauer addressing allegations made by Pennsylvania Senate Democratic nominee and three-star Navy Admiral Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) that someone inside the Obama White House offered him a job in exchange for his withdrawal from the PA Senate Primary race:

“After more than ten weeks of outstanding questions, the White House has offered a version of events that has important differences from what Congressman Sestak has been saying for months – that he was offered a ‘job’ by ‘someone in the White House’ in exchange for leaving the Pennsylvania Senate race.

“I’m very concerned that in the rush to put together this report, the White House has done everything but explain its own actions and has instead worked to craft a story behind closed doors and coordinate with those involved. The White House has admitted today to coordinating an arrangement that would represent an illegal quid-pro-quo as federal law prohibits directly or indirectly offering any position or appointment, paid or unpaid, in exchange for favors connected with an election.

“President Clinton and Congressman Sestak now need to answer questions about what the White House has released today – that at the behest of the White House Chief of staff, they dispatched a former President to get Joe Sestak out of the Pennsylvania Senate Primary. Regardless of what President Clinton or Congressman Sestak now say, it is abundantly clear that this kind of conduct is contrary to President Obama’s pledge to change ‘business as usual’ and that his Administration has engaged in the kind of political shenanigans he once campaigned to end.”

18 U.S.C. § 600 – Promise of employment or other benefit for political activity

Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both

18 U.S.C. § 211 – Acceptance or solicitation to obtain appointive public office

Whoever solicits or receives, either as a political contribution, or for personal emolument, any money or thing of value, in consideration of the promise of support or use of influence in obtaining for any person any appointive office or place under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Whoever solicits or receives any thing of value in consideration of aiding a person to obtain employment under the United States either by referring his name to an executive department or agency of the United States or by requiring the payment of a fee because such person has secured such employment shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both. This section shall not apply to such services rendered by an employment agency pursuant to the written request of an executive department or agency of the United States.

18 U.S.C. § 595 – Interference by administrative employees of Federal, State, or Territorial Governments

Whoever, being a person employed in any administrative position by the United States, or by any department or agency thereof, or by the District of Columbia or any agency or instrumentality thereof, or by any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States, or any political subdivision, municipality, or agency thereof, or agency of such political subdivision or municipality (including any corporation owned or controlled by any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States or by any such political subdivision, municipality, or agency), in connection with any activity which is financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States, or any department or agency thereof, uses his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, or Resident Commissioner, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

This section shall not prohibit or make unlawful any act by any officer or employee of any educational or research institution, establishment, agency, or system which is supported in whole or in part by any state or political subdivision thereof, or by the District of Columbia or by any Territory or Possession of the United States; or by any recognized religious, philanthropic or cultural organization.

And here is Sestak:

MEDIA, PA - U.S. Senate candidate Congressman Joe Sestak released the following statement today:

"Last summer, I received a phone call from President Clinton. During the course of the conversation, he expressed concern over my prospects if I were to enter the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the value of having me stay in the House of Representatives because of my military background. He said that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had spoken with him about my being on a Presidential Board while remaining in the House of Representatives. I said no. I told President Clinton that my only consideration in getting into the Senate race or not was whether it was the right thing to do for Pennsylvania working families and not any offer. The former President said he knew I'd say that, and the conversation moved on to other subjects.

"There are many important challenges facing Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. I intend to remain focused on those issues and continue my fight on behalf of working families."

By David Weigel  |  May 28, 2010; 12:27 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Rand Paul: Back and talking to Russian TV
Next: Ron Paul: Constituents changed my mind on 'don't ask, don't tell'

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company