"Whoever solicits or receives … any….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." -- 18 USC Sec. 211 -- Bribery, Graft and Conflicts of Interest: Acceptance or solicitation to obtain appointive public office
"In the face of a White House denial, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak stuck to his story yesterday that the Obama administration offered him a "high-ranking" government post if he would not run against U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary."
-- Philadelphia Inquirer
February 19, 2010
"D.C. job alleged as attempt to deter Romanoff"
September 27, 2009
A bombshell has just exploded in the 2010 elections.
For the second time in five months, the Obama White House is being accused -- by Democrats -- of offering high ranking government jobs in return for political favors. What no one is reporting is that this is a violation of federal law that can lead to prison time, a fine or both, according to Title 18, Chapter 11, Section 211 of the United States Code.
The jobs in question? Secretary of the Navy and a position within the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The favor requested in return? Withdrawal from Senate challenges to two sitting United States Senators, both Democrats supported by President Obama. The Senators are Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Michael Bennett in Colorado.
On Friday, Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak, the Democrat challenging Specter for re-nomination, launched the controversy by accusing the Obama White House of offering him a federal job in exchange for his agreeing to abandon his race against Specter.
In August of 2009, the Denver Post reported last September, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina "offered specific suggestions" for a job in the Obama Administration to Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff, a former state House Speaker, if Romanoff would agree to abandon a nomination challenge to U.S. Senator Michael Bennett. Bennett was appointed to the seat upon the resignation of then-Senator Ken Salazar after Salazar was appointed by Obama to serve as Secretary of the Interior. According to the Post, the specific job mentioned was in the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Post cited "several sources who described the communication to The Denver Post."
The paper also describes Messina as "President Barack Obama's deputy chief of staff and a storied fixer in the White House political shop." Messina's immediate boss is White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
Sestak is standing by his story. Romanoff refused to discuss it with the Denver paper. In both instances the White House has denied the offers took place. The Sestak story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, reported by Thomas Fitzgerald, can be found here, While the Denver Post story, reported by Michael Riley, from September 27, 2009, can be read here.
In an interview with Philadelphia television anchor Larry Kane, who broke the story on Larry Kane: Voice of Reason, a Comcast Network show, Sestak says someone -- unnamed -- in the Obama White House offered him a federal job if he would quit the Senate race against Specter, the latter having the support of President Obama, Vice President Biden and, in the state itself, outgoing Democratic Governor Ed Rendell. Both Biden and Rendell are longtime friends of Specter, with Biden taking personal credit for convincing Specter to leave the Republican Party and switch to the Democrats. Rendell served as a deputy to Specter when the future senator's career began as Philadelphia's District Attorney, a job Rendell himself would eventually hold.
Asked Kane of Sestak in the Comcast interview:
"Is it true that you were offered a high ranking job in the administration in a bid to get you to drop out of the primary against Arlen Specter?"
"Yes" replied Sestak.
Kane: "Was it Secretary of the Navy?"
To which the Congressman replied:
Sestak is a retired Navy admiral.
In the Colorado case, the Post reported that while Romanoff refused comment on a withdrawal-for-a-job offer, "several top Colorado Democrats described Messina's outreach to Romanoff to The Post, including the discussion of specific jobs in the administration. They asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject."
The Post also noted that the day after Romanoff announced his Senate candidacy, President Obama quickly announced his endorsement of Senator Bennett.
The discovery that the White House has now been reported on two separate occasions in two different states to be deliberately committing a potential violation of federal law -- in order to preserve the Democrats' Senate majority -- could prove explosive in this highly political year. The 60-seat majority slipped to 59 seats with the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, a Democrat, and the election of Republican Senator Scott Brown. Many political analysts are suggesting Democrats could lose enough seats to lose their majority altogether.
This is the stuff of congressional investigations and cable news alerts, as an array of questions will inevitably start being asked of the Obama White House.
This is another one of those bald-faced sleaze-bag moments that probably happens all the time behind closed doors, but only rarely escapes out into the public's eye. Like the House banking scandal of the 1990s, this one is so simply (and obviously wrong) that if a large portion of the American people find out about this, it is certain to have repercussions. Throw it on top of the already sky-high resentment toward all things government in the country and we truly do have the makings of a bombshell.
We know the media won't widely report this sort of thing, nor will they ask the questions that need to be asked to bring the needed political pressure to bear, so it's up to you and I to pass the story along from person to person. Information is the key, and this story must be spread as far and wide as possible. This is one fire that absolutely MUST be stoked.
There's my two cents.