Weeks after his victory over incumbent Senator Arlen Specter, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak is facing questions regarding a statement he made that the White House had offered him a job in exchange for dropping out of the Pennsylvania primary.
Sestak’s recent upset victory has pushed the story into the national spotlight and encouraged the White House to provide additional information on the story.
In a May 28 statement, Sestak claimed that in the summer of 2009, former President Bill Clinton discussed Sestak’s “being on a Presidential Board while remaining in the House of Representatives.”
It is illegal under federal law to promise an employment position “as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity.”
Although Congressional Republicans are demanding a thorough investigation into Sestak’s claim, political experts have explained that this kind of horse-trading is not unusual in Washington.
In 1981 President Ronald Reagan offered Senator S. I. Hayakawa (R-Calif.) a job in exchange for dropping out of the heavily contested California primary, according to a Nov. 25 1981 Associated Press article.
The Democratic leadership at Penn agrees with this assessment.
“This kind of thing happens often,” Philadelphia Student Coordinator for Students for Sestak and rising College junior Ted Koutsoubas explained.
“This is just an attempt to distract from the campaign. Ultimately the people and especially students want to hear about the issues,” added Koutsoubas, a former Daily Pennsylvanian Photo Manager.
“Sestak does not have anything to be concerned about,” Penn Democrats President and rising College junior Emma Ellman-Golan said. “It was not a paid position, nor was it something that would have distracted from his duties as a Congressman.”
These kinds of responses have not dissuaded some Congressional Republicans, including the Ranking Member on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Representative Darrell Issa, who recently claimed that the Sestak scandal could be “Obama’s Watergate.”
Some political experts, such as Republican National Committee communications director Doug Heye, expressed that while the event was not illegal, President Obama should be held to a higher standard than his predecessors because he based part of his campaign on greater transparency and accountability, according to a May 26 WashingtonPost.com article.
“I do not think Obama’s actions merit criticism,” Ellman-Golan explained. “He’s been more transparent than any other President before him, using technology to accomplish it.”
“The President has a lot on his plate right now,” Koutsoubas said. “It is difficult to fulfill all of his campaign promises and be held to the highest standard possible at the same time. I think he is doing the best job he possibly can.”
Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff revealed in a statement to the press on June 2 that he too was offered an administration job in exchange for dropping out of the race. Romanoff revealed an e-mail sent to him by Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff, which listed three jobs — two at USAID and one as director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency — with a page-long set of job descriptions.
Sestak will face former U.S. Representative Republican Pat Toomey in the November general election.Comments powered by Disqus
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