Thursday, June 3, 2010

Obama White House: Bribery Central

Whoa! If only the media wasn't hooked up to a hope-n-change Kool-Aid IV on this one! Of course, this is such a big (and obvious) deal that it may become an issue anyway:

U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff acknowledged tonight that he discussed three possible jobs with the deputy chief of staff of the Obama administration — all contingent upon a decision by Romanoff not to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

Romanoff said none of the jobs was formally offered, but said the only reason they were discussed with Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina was if Romanoff stayed out of the Senate race.

“Mr. Messina also suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race,” Romanoff wrote in a statement. “He added that he could not guarantee my appointment to any of these positions. At no time was I promised a job, nor did I request Mr. Messina’s assistance in obtaining one.”

Hot Air poses the obvious question:
Is Messina guilty of a crime for having made this kinda sorta offer, even without any formal “promise”? Let’s see:

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.

I think we can get this one to the jury! Seriously, though, I don’t want Messina charged, partly because he was obviously acting at Rahm Emanuel’s behest (no deputy COS would be authorized to bribe a senate candidate on his own initiative, I assume) and partly because I’m sure this really is D.C. business as usual for both parties.
The point here is to illustrate not that this behavior is unusual, but to illustrate that it is depressingly normal. And, it also happens to be precisely the sort of thing that Obama campaigned on, promising to do the opposite! Just because both sides likely engage in this doesn't make it right, and the American people shouldn't tolerate it from either side.

Of course, this also serves to bring even more pressure and visibility onto the whole Sestak bribery situation. How will the White House spin this? Even in cases where the strictly legal minutiae end up working out, sometimes the public perception is so firmly fixed that a politician will be crushed under its weight alone (remember what killed George Allen's presidential run before it even began?). This may be one of those times. Keep watching.

There's my two cents.

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