Friday afternoon, after most Americans left work early to begin their long Memorial Day weekend, the White House finally issued its long-awaited explanation on the Sestak matter. Although the timing of the release is suspect, the facts disclosed are even more so.
Congressman Joe Sestak (D. Pa.) has maintained since at least February that the White House offered him a high ranking position in the administration if he would withdraw from the Democratic Senate primary election in Pennsylvania. Sestak was running against Arlen Specter (D. Pa.), the republican, turned democrat, who was Obama’s choice for that seat.
But, Friday’s revelation from the White House casts even further doubt on what actually happened. According to Robert Bauer, White House counsel, what actually took place was that former president Clinton, at the behest of White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, spoke with Sestak to determine if Sestak would be interested in an “alternative path to service”, and raised the possibility of an “uncompensated advisory board” position if Sestak would drop out of the race. And, Sestak quickly confirmed that that, in fact. was what had really happened.
I don’t know about you, but, the White House’s “recitation” of the facts seems a bit odd. Sestak’s original statement was that he was offered a high level job by the White House. By the time the administration circled the wagons, it was an unpaid position on an advisory board. We are also asked to believe that the White House actually thought that Sestak would give up a very good chance of becoming a United States Senator in exchange for a non-paying advisory board position offered by a former president.
Of course, those pesky details may not matter, as both versions of the story provide the predicate for a clear violation of federal law. And, in that conclusion, I have some support. Before the White House released its version of the events, David Axelrod, a senior White House advisor, said,
that offering a job in exchange for Mr. Sestak’s withdrawal would constitute a serious breach of the law.
Anyone think we’ll see a special prosecutor?