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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The ‘Bribe Sestak’ Suspect List Can’t Be That Long



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From the Monday edition of Morning Jolt:

When Toomey Wins, He’ll Wish He Ses-took That Offer

Politico: “Rep. Joe Sestak, winner of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, is refusing to provide more information on what job he was offered by a White House official to drop of that race, although he confirmed again that the incident occurred. The White House was backing incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in the primary. Sestak acknowledged in an interview in February that he was offered a position by an unnamed White House official — a potential violation of federal law — but has not offered any specifics on conversation. Republicans are trying to use the issue against Sestak in the November Senate race.”

Are they really trying to use this against Sestak? I thought they were using it against the White House. Because he comes across pretty well in this story — too determined to represent his state to consider what amounts to a bribe. Perhaps Sestak looks a little squishy for not naming names. But how much doubt is there about who would be the one offering a job like this? Dollars to doughnuts, if a job offer to a candidate is made, the trail leads back to a figure whose name rhymes with either “Schmam Schemanuel” or “Schmavid Schmaxelrod.”

Doug Powers, writing at Michelle Malkin’s site, does think that the unwillingness to provide details about a potential crime does reflect pretty badly on Sestak: “It’s almost as if he’s saying, ‘Yes, that was true at the time I first said it.’ Sestak’s either lying and can’t recant because there’s an election coming up and he’d be Blumenthalling himself into oblivion, or he woke up next to a horse’s head one day and can take his accusations no further, but can’t back out of them either. His seeming ‘challenge’ to the press is to get the White House to admit it — and you’d have better luck getting Michael Moore to admit he’s actually a capitalist pig. If you accuse an ‘unnamed’ person of a felony, it isn’t ‘somebody else’s reponsibility’ to find out who it was. Try telling the police somebody told you they robbed a bank, and when the cops ask you who it was, answering, ‘it’s your responsibility to find that out and get that person to admit it.’ You’d be at the station being questioned before too long — and that’s where Sestak should be.”

Lorie Byrd, too, sees this as a potentially major issue in the Senate race: “If someone were to offer Senator Sestak a bribe, would he just turn them down and leave it up to them to turn themselves in? Or would he let the proper authorities, and the voters, know what was going on, to serve as a strong deterrent for such behavior? Even if Sestak did not want to raise the issue of the White House job offer, now that it is out in the open doesn’t he have some responsibility to provide additional details? It appears he doesn’t think so. After all, he said, ‘That’s their responsibility.’ Well, at least with that statement he is clear with the voters about where he stands on the issue of responsibility.”

Hey, remember in the bad old days of the unilateralist cowboy in the White House and the Abramoff scandal and everything else that we were told was a moral quagmire? At least back then the Oval Office throw pillows weren’t embroidered with “snitches get stitches.”

UPDATE: Moe Lane disagrees:

Unless there was an active conspiracy permeating the entire Executive Branch to bribe Joe Sestak, somebody in the White House is innocent of this crime — but until we get the full details of what happens, we won’t know who. And while I may have been heavily critical of the unprofessional behavior of the White House’s staffers, I think it’s hardly fair of Sestak to talk about this scandal in a fashion that implicates all of them.


Tags: Barack Obama , Joe Sestak


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