Sestak Has ‘Moral Imperative’ to Answer Questions on White House Job Offer, GOP Congressman Says

By Fred Lucas | May 19, 2010 | 4:42 PM EDT

Rep. Joe Sestak (D.-Pa.) is challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Senate primary. (AP Photo/George Widman)

( – Fresh off a win over incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Rep. Joe Sestak is still obligated to answer questions about a job he says the White House offered him as an inducement not to run against Specter, a leading House Republican said.
“Could the reason why Congressman Joe Sestak refuses to name names is because the very people who tried to bribe him are now his benefactors?” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement Wednesday.
“For months, Sestak has repeatedly said without equivocation that the White House illegally offered him a federal job in exchange for dropping out of the race,” Issa said.
“Was Joe Sestak embellishing what really happened or does he have first-hand knowledge of the White House breaking the law? If what he said is the truth, Joe Sestak has a moral imperative to come forward and expose who within the Obama Administration tried to bribe him,” he added.
Sestak on Tuesday defeated the incumbent Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary even though Specter had the support of President Barack Obama and most establishment Democrats.
In February, Sestak said that a White House official offered a high level administration job to drop out of the primary against Specter. If this is true, it could violate federal statutes dealing with bribery, or with interfering in a federal election.
Philadelphia news man Larry Kane first asked Sestak, “Were you ever offered a federal job to get out of this race?”
Sestak answered, “Yes.”
Kane followed, “Was it the Navy secretary?”
Sestak, a retired Navy admiral answered, “No comment … I would never get out for a deal. I’m in this for the Democratic principles.”
Kane asked again, “OK, but was there was a job offered you by the White House?”
Sestak said, “Yes.”
Since then, Sestak has reaffirmed in several interviews that the job was offered but never gave details.
Issa said the end of the primary contest between the two did not mean it is a dead issue, because the issue is finding out whether a felony was committed by a White House official.
Issa also formally asked Attorney General Eric Holder to name a special prosecutor to investigate the matter. Holder declined to answer questions about whether the justice department would investigate the matter or name a special prosecutor during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.
In April, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs only said, “I’ve talked to several people in the White House; I’ve talked to people that have talked to others in the White House. I’m told that whatever conversations have been had are not problematic. I think Congressman Sestak has discussed that this is – whatever happened is in the past, and he’s focused on his primary election.”
According Issa and several legal experts, at least three laws might have been broken by the offer.
Title 18, U.S.C. Section 211 says, “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.”
He also refers to Title 18, U.S.C. Section 595, which says, “Whoever, being a person employed in any administrative position by the United States … uses his official authority for the purposes of interfering with, or affecting the nomination of, or the election of any candidate for office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representative…shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”
Finally, Issa referred to Title 18 U.S.C. Section 600, which says, “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, in 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 … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”